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Good morning to all the faithful Russo’s Brand members! It’s Saturday morning and a beautiful day to be alive, or to Delete or Decay, when pondering the current TNA product. I’m literally sitting here with my trusty cup of hot coffee—and let me tell you I’ve made the best damn pot of joe that I can recall in months but, needless to say, IMPACT Wrestling has got me buzzing and feeling giddy like a five-year old losing his s*** over John Cena. At this very moment, I’m not sure that I’ve ever been more excited over something in this this vicious circle of squared canvas and intertwined ring rope; something in the wrestling world is actually pushing boundaries and attempting to revamp, reimage, and redeliver on an age old American pastime that so many of us have grown to love unconditionally! I’m not sure that there has ever been a better time to be a fan.

Man—I’ve been beating my head against a freakin’ brick wall, so to speak, for the last two years since I got back into rasslin’… And why the hell is my Pandora Radio playing all of this garbage music right now that is making me lose my train of thought? I’m a very much about finding a flow in everything that I do and when this terrible excuse for a song starts blaring through my speakers as I’m trying to concentrate and write a piece, it’s so damn frustrating and annoying that I just have to say it. Ok, now I’m good.

Anyways, over these last two years the WWE has been giving me a pile of steaming, warm, decaying dog s*** that I’ve already had to scoop up hundreds of times in the past, and I can barely even hold my stomach for it anymore! I’m going to shoot from the hip right now: The ONLY reason that I’ve continued to watch this mostly forgettable and constantly overbearing product is because I’m a diehard wrestling fan, it’s in my blood. Coming from a guy that took like twelve years off from watching wrestling after being a total mark since I was two-years old, I continue to watch because I’m an optimist at heart. I refused to walk away again because I won’t let myself miss something great or revolutionary that feels brand new, has been hovering on the horizon and is seemingly growing and becoming large than life! This brings me to TNA

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I’ve literally only watched two episodes of any TNA show in my whole life. The first was The Final Deletion show and the second was this past Thursday. I have no preconceived notions of what Impact Wrestling should or could be, and I have no glaring distant memory of some long lost greatness that has become virtually extinct however, that is pretty much where I stand with WWE. I’ve seen every wrestling angle to unbearable boredom and I’ve watched the all top dogs fight each other countless times in way too many variations of matches that mean nothing and leave me emotionally disconnected like severed heart strings. Most Monday nights, I’m looking forward the RAW & LIVE review show on Russo’s Brand because it is legitimately much more entertaining watching two guys discuss the show than the actual watching of the show! Think about that for a minute… Seems kind of ass-backwards right? Yeah, because it is.

I want TNA to become the WCW of the modern era. I want to see the WWE paying for their disrespect of the fans and the intelligence of said fans! Straight up, this company went corporate and somehow lost the fiery passion that was always the driving force of the wrestling game. Why put forth a real effort when you have no real competition and you’ve already taken so much money from us fans hand over fist for too many years? The answer to that is simple: It’s greed and egotism. This is a company that has watched their ratings plummet for over a decade and they actually believe that the more they feed us the more we will eat. NEWS FLASH—If you keep shoveling s*** down my throat, I will eventually stop swallowing it no matter how hungry I am and will inevitably puke it back up and spit the repulsive chunks right back in your two faces! WWE is two-faced. There, The Gonzo Shark said and will stand by it! They claim to care about the fans, first and foremost. Really, then why are so many turning their backs on you?

To put it into perspective: The WWE literally tapped out and said “Yea, ok, this is all fake and it’s always been fake since day one. We’ll just tell you and show you EVERYTHING and still expect you to care about the product.” I just can’t come to terms with that in my own mind. That would be like Quentin Tarantino, who is probably my favorite director of all-time, telling everyone to watch the behind the scenes documentary that comes with his new film before actually watching the film. I wouldn’t buy The Hateful 8 Blu-ray and watch all of the special features first. How anyone else not see how ludicrous and counterproductive that is? If I already know every little nuance and detail that went into a final product before I actually watched that product, why the f*** should tune in and give a s***? Here’s a hypothetical but very real scenario– It’s 7p.m. on a Monday night and I’m bored, let me watch an episode of Ride Along with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins smiling and gallivanting around stroking each other’s egos and telling stories of life on the road, even though I know they hate each other on TV and will want to rip each other’s faces off in less than one hour when RAW airs. Why would I want to be in a position where it’s like actually impossible to suspend my disbelief because I know it’s “fake”. To me, that is just asinine and ridiculous—a complete waste of my time, my intelligence, and for no real valid reason, yet, I continue to watch every week. They’ve had me by the balls for two long years and I’m getting tired of it!

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The bottom line is that IMPACT Wrestling is literally fighting for survival, much like the WWE was during the Attitude Era, and it shows in every little detail of their show (from what I’ve watched). First off, Bobby Lashley is the absolute money and I never even knew it! He is like the “poor man’s Brock Lesnar” except, he’s better! Yup, Lashley is better than Lesnar, straight up. He’s a superior talker that doesn’t need an annoying mouthpiece to cut the exact same promo for him every time, he’s better than that. This guy can jump up 6 feet and leapfrog over a man’s head but turn around and power bomb him 6 feet down into the mat as if he was The Incredible Hulk. That, to me, is far better than a drug test failing, one trick pony with three moves. Don’t get me wrong, Brock is clearly the huge attraction that Lashley obviously isn’t but, Lashley has more talent as a professional wrestler. Let’s just face the facts—Lashley can wrestle more than four times a year without a legitimate fear of being over-exposed. That is the black cloud hanging over the head of Lesnar that Lashley doesn’t have to deal with. Lesnar can’t wrestle more than four times a year because his gimmick will become stale and lose its validity. That is a fact whether you understand it or not!

BROKEN Matt and Brother Nero are literally changing the face of wrestling. Why? I’ll tell you why—because they play actual characters that are believable and can be emotionally invested in. I was an over-the-top Hardy Boyz fan back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I know that now they are just playing characters that are so far out there it’s astonishing, but that doesn’t matter to me. Why? Because it’s great f***ing storytelling, that’s why! I haven’t ever been more excited about a program in wrestling than I am about the upcoming Delete or Decay segment. This is the perfect story, with more added star-power in Decay, that will only out due and raise the bar on what has already been done.  They have seamlessly intertwined this great, unconventional and totally out of bounds story throughout the entirety of their shows and it’s so shocking you’d want to change the channel, but so interesting it’s hard for anyone to turn away! This, just like The Final Deletion, is the type of thing we will tell our children about and bask in the immortal nostalgia of its epic-ness. Mark this time period down and make a mental note of it because it will be forever chiseled into the annals of time and is changing the course of history. This is not some stupid gimmick match with a few big names to draw an audience—what this actually has become is one company drawing a line in the sand and saying, “Nope, we won’t back down!” And the best part about this is the fact that it doesn’t just stop there like a dark, ominous dead-end on some back road with one flickering streetlight that you’re ever so hesitant to explore. No—what this represents to me is the first wave of darts that have been precisely tossed to begin the deflation of this outdated wrestling bubble we’ve all been subjected to for way too long! Case and point: TNA shows are better from start to finish because what they lack in big name value and promotional avenues, they are making up with a superior television product. Never has the term “less is more” meant as much in the wrestling society!

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All I know for sure is this: When I watch IMPACT Wrestling, I’m genuinely excited and curious of the unknown or what could possibly come next. TNA has laid a foundation that can’t be shaken as long as they continue to grow and move in the direction they’ve been headed towards. I don’t know—maybe they need a few bigger names to crossover from WWE, like Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes or Ryback, who are all very respectable talents in their own right. Or maybe they need a move to a bigger network eventually. Maybe they need to figure out a way to promote themselves on a larger, more accessible scale. The truth is that they probably need to do all of those things, and then some. It’s clearly an uphill battle for them but, The Gonzo Shark has faith!

In closing, I will say this which I believe speaks in volumes to prove my theory: In four weeks, I will order Bound for Glory on pay-per-view which is something I wouldn’t have been caught dead doing three months ago, a year ago, or even five years I ago. I would have never paid for TNA wrestling show before, but they gave me something to believe in; something to really spark my interest on an unexplored level; something for me to actually feel for. What they’ve done is given me, and every other wrestling fan, something totally different than anything we’ve EVER seen before! They’ve given us a new lease on professional wrestling. I am just one shark—think of how many others smell the blood like I do! TNA most definitely has the ability to grow and compete on a worldwide level. So I say, DELETE, DELETE, DELETE the WWE!

How do you feel about the current state of TNA? Please share your feelings and opinions! Ok, now I’m going to order my BROKEN Matt and Brother Nero shirts.

Follow me on Twitter: @GonzoShark1

Until next time, The Gonzo Shark checks out…

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5 Comments »

  1. Ian,

    Let me start by saying I’ve got two words for ya:

    I’m sorry.

    I’m sorry because, as much as I want to agree with your post, I simply can’t. Or at least not completely.

    Unlike you, I do have the gift of hindsight. I want to make sure you’re hit with a few facts that won’t change your mind, but hopefully open your perspective.

    1: When Lashley was in WWECW, he was TERRIBLE on the mic and nowhere near as good in the ring. He was raw and underexposed for the most part. His most notable feud was against Umaga, and Umaga (RIP) arguably carried Lashley to a great feud. So we need to acknowledge his growth and development as a talent, because now he’s the one doing much of the carrying in feuds.

    2: While The Final Deletion and the upcoming Delete or Decay are compelling, the reality is that Lucha Underground was doing things like this (not as corny) for over a year now. From a production perspective there is no comparison to LU, period.

    3: To that point. What hurts LU is what also makes it compelling: If you didn’t follow it from the very beginning, it’s hard to get into it now because it’s all one long story, rather than disparate segments, but if you did, it’s must-watch TV. The same will invariably happen with the Broken stuff, because unless you watched Jeff plummet through Matt on a table, and Matt’s broken transformation, you simply won’t understand what’s going on.

    4: The writing on the Broken stuff has taken a detour to the wrong direction. At first, it was about heel Matt getting revenge on face Jeff for nearly ending his career by turning him into a slave. You had heel Matt forcing face Jeff to fight alone in tag matches. Now, for some illogical reason, they are a pair again and all’s forgotten? Matt no longer cares about being champion despite him getting screwed out of the title?

    #4 is the real problem. That’s vintage TNA. They’ll have something that seems good, and then screw it up. Feuding with Decay despite Decay and Matt being heels? Having Jeff act like a heel despite the whole gimmick being that Jeff was forced to do things? The underlyings just don’t make sense anymore. You had a match between heel Lashley and heel Bennett. Why? This is after seeing an excellent heel turn in Drew Galloway: subtle, built up, happened over time, created a new feud.

    Same thing happened with Jeff’s heel run in Immortal. That was easily the best of him – and while he screwed it up at Victory Road, the reality was they weren’t handling him properly anyway.

    Same thing happened with the Main Event Mafia. When they took over the show it was the best TV I’d seen in a long time. CLEAR heels and CLEAR faces. Heat generating. You saw fan favorites just getting decimated, and it was must see. Screwed up.

    I’m not bashing on TNA for trying. They have the best overall characters. Eli Drake is a favorite of mine. But TNA is making a lot of the same mistakes that wCw was doing.

  2. I hear where you’re coming from and those are valid points. I did not watch WWE or ECW when Lashley was there but I know that he has grown into a much better talent since those days. Also, i did not watch TNA until recently so I can’t disagree with any of your points. Honestly, I just believe in Billy Corgan and his creative direction, especially with him being given a bit more leeway as president. All I know for sure is that for over 10 years I would put IMPACT Wrestling on for less than one minute and change the channel–everytime! Now, I’m interested and i don’t want to change the channel–and from my perspective it’s been getting only better since The Final Deletion. This has to count for something because I know I’m not the only one in this position. I like the pairing of the Hardys/Decay because they are simply the most compelling characters and, in my opinion, transcend the generic babyface/heel heat. I get it– you do have the hindsight and are more in tune with TNA’s track record, I’ll give you that. Regardless–I’m still sitting here as a NEW fan of TNA!

    • Again, kudos to TNA for at least trying something different. But Russo, Jeff and Glenn just got through calling out WWE for having a face/face match in Dean vs. Ziggler.

      If both stars are already mega-over, like the last WrestleMania that Rock and Austin headlined, then it doesn’t matter much. Rock walked into the match a heel and walked out a face, simply because the fans just couldn’t boo the man after such a performance. But when you’re still fleshing characters and writing out, it’s just not a great idea. It becomes a prop, rather than something that benefits either side. Like a lot of what old-school ECW was at times.

      The other issue I had is that Decay had something going with Bram, but then Bram left TNA and the whole angle was dropped. That was developed beautifully and in my opinion was fleshing out the Decay characters, especially Rosemary. Dragged it out a bit across two shows, but still compelling. Creepy. A throwback to when the Wyatt Family was first developed. Now I’m wishing Rosemary was Sister Abigail working two gimmicks, just because.

  3. I don’t care if people are faces or heels. What I care about is compelling stories with characters and matches that are connected to those storylines. I think the whole “face vs heel” gimmick is pretty much outdone; its ran its course over decades and it’s outdated as being the baseline for every angle in 2016.