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30 October 2014

Return of the Hardcore


Blood. Weapons. Anarchy. Words I associate with hardcore wrestling and lately words that I have associated with TNA Wrestling. There was a time in which TNA had the baddest of the bad when it came to hardcore wrestling. Look no further than the Barbed Wire Massacre Match or the countless Monsters Balls, King of the Mountain Matches, Lethal Lockdowns, even Raven's Clockwork Orange House of Fun! However, it seemed in 2012-2013 the hardcore style was toned down. Sure we had the occasional street fight or something, but not to the extreme that TNA used to  go. Even our beloved hardcore monster Abyss was shackled to the Joseph Park character, taking him away from the hardcore style. Well, folks, fast forward to 2014 and it seems that the wild and crazy and frankly dangerous style has returned. Ever since the "Summer in the City" from New York, TNA seems to have gone back to it's roots, not only providing great in ring action in the six sided ring, but bringing back the extreme element of TNA's yesteryear and while it has gotten a great reaction from most, is it really the best thing for TNA to do right now. So, let's crawl through the broken tables, bent chairs, the barbed wire, the mud, the blood and the beer and look at the positives and negatives of TNA's return of the hardcore.

Positives:

Standing Out
As it stands right now, the only place you get to see hardcore wrestling action every week on television is on Impact every Wednesday. Sure, there may be the occasional wild brawl on Monday night from WWE, but mostly they stay away from the REALLY crazy stuff. There is no way someone like John Cena is going to be chokeslammed onto thumbtacks, but turn on TNA and you can see Bram damage Abyss with  Janice. WWE has a more story driven product and of course is PG. TNA can give themselves an identity separate from WWE by utilizing more of the hardcore elements.

Satisfies a Niche
There is a group of fans that LOVE hardcore wrestling. I constantly hear fans complain that they don't get enough of it in mainstream wrestling. It was no surprise that the rabid New York City crowds ate up all the wild action they were presented with this summer. If TNA continues to provide hardcore matches every week that niche audience has found their mainstream home. TNA needs to try and appeal to as much of the marketplace as possible so turning the plunder up to eleven may not be a bad idea.

The Hardcore Division
The hardcore matches being on Impact almost every week has given certain performers a place on the roster. Bram has become the new "King of Hardcore"; he seems to really embrace the style and succeed at it. ECW alumni like Tommy Dreamer, Devon, and Rhino have been able to find their way back into TNA. These guys are the masters of the hardcore or "plunder" style, so its a natural that TNA would use them at this point since it seems hardcore wrestling has become a staple on Impact again. There are certain wrestlers may be limited in the ring in traditional settings, but can get over by doing plunder matches.

Negatives:

Broken Bodies
In the certain to be match of the year contender Full Metal Mayhem a couple of weeks back between The Wolves, The Hardys and Team 3D, half of the performers went in injured. Davey Richards, Devon and Matt Hardy were all walking wounded. This is likely due to performing in ladder and tables matches the previous weeks. Risk of injuries could mess up storyline plans and health of wrestlers. Look at a lot of wrestlers from the 90's, when the extreme style was king, who are broken down before their time.

It's a PG World
While it may seem like the hardcore style could bring in some new fans, advertisers and sponsors may not be so keen on seeing guys smash each other with weapons every week on Impact. While, it seems OK for other television shows to portray violence, wrestling has always been held to another standard, a more discerning standard. Since wrestling has been primarily geared towards children, having Bram slice open Abyss with barbed wire is certainly not inappropriate for kids. TNA needs all the sponsors and income they can get and it may not be a good idea offend any potential revenue streams.

Burn Out?
It's hard to follow a spectacle like a hardcore match with another hardcore match. The game of "can you top this? "can be a tough one to keep up. The Wolves, Hardys, Team 3D may have been able to pull it off. But after seeing some of the crazy hardcore matches how can the next one top it? Or if it doesn't it can come across as not being as good. Plus, you run the risk at desensitizing the fans to the style and the matches don't mean anything anymore ala ECW.  Many matches weren't given much build up. One example being Devon vs. Bram, they seem to be just starting a rivalry but they've already had a street fight. These matches, traditionally, finish feuds. Well, let's be realistic, that hasn't been the case in years. Still...

As we can see the hardcore style has it's ups and downs, I'm not really telling you anything you don't already know, but I thought it deserved a look. I feel like every week on Impact we get some form of street fight or no rules, weapons allowed match. While I can see the that it can have it's place in TNA, they need to be weary of the effects having too much of it can have. So I've stood on the ladders, broke a few tables just by trying to sit on them and of course busted myself open with frustration trying to hammer out this edition of Mann in the Cage. Let me know what you think.

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