Branding Issues Pt. 2: The Kurt Angle-TNA Paradox - A Final Hope
by, 09-26-2011 at 12:30 PM (1393 Views)
In continuing my rant on the state of TNA and its so-called brand here I present part 2, and a possible solution, to the TNA dilemma, and it's lack of a providing a viable alternative to the monopoly that is the WWE.
THE FINAL HOPE
In part one I mentioned one other wrestler that could legitimately stand off on the other side of the ring opposite Kurt Angle in the Shawn, Taker and RVD grouping.
In fact, this man could be the cornerstone of a branding process by any wrestling promotion on the face of the Earth if he ever had an itch to do so. He's been involved in some of the most memorable wrestling matches against Kurt Angle already in the States and in Japan in the past decade and though he no longer wrestles professionally, has become a bigger household name outside of the business than he ever was while he was in it.
I speak of course of Brock Lesnar.
If TNA could somehow put together a long term package to lure Brock from Dana White and the UFC, the landscape changes. All of a sudden TNA would then have the three top talents in the industry (Rob Van Dam is still better than anyone in the WWE currently) and someone capable of generating immense interest on many levels on and in many different segments of society.
Lesnar has been on the record stating that the traveling required in the WWE was too much for him - and he's had some health issues while in the UFC... perhaps the perfect home for him would be TNA. Brock has nothing to prove to anyone anymore (unless he wants some personal revenge) in the UFC - everybody knows he is a legit monster, and not just some creation a suit in Titan Towers came up with. Now would be the perfect time for Brock Lesnar to come back to pro wrestling from a monetary situation alone.
It's unlikely to ever happen. And even if Brock ever considered coming back to pro-wrestling I would personally prefer to see him go back to the WWE. This is the more likely scenario, and certainly on a short-term basis only if at all. But making a comeback with TNA would be very interesting.
Brock is older now and has a lot of tread on the tires - but a lighter travel schedule may be reinvigorating to Lesnar as far as involving himself in the pro wrestling circuit again.
It would have to be done with Hogan out of TNA (juxtapositioning Hogan and Lesnar was not the greatest thing for Hogan's image in 2003, I don't need to see it again in 2011) and with a commitment from TNA to give Lesnar a limited schedule and big dollars. There is a TNA-UFC connection as well as they are both affiliated with Spike, whatever that is worth, but so it can't be considered completely insane.
But what will probably happen is that in the offhand chance that Brock ever steps in a pro wrestling ring again, it will be in the WWE... where Kurt Angle will likley be again as well, leaving TNA will be trying to sell you a main event of A.J. Styles vs. Ron Killings 2.0.
It's a hope, but an unlikely one. TNA has to work with what it has now and what they have is Kurt Angle. Kurt is never going to sway the ratings, but ratings at this point are not what matters. What matters is simply establishing themselves as having the best champion. And even at Kurt's age Kurt is still the best in the business.
After a 12-18th month reign as champion it would certainly make every Kurt Angle pay-per-view after worth seeing for sure - now think about how interesting these pay per view main events against Sting, RVD, A.J. Styles, or whomever TNA wants to throw at him would be if Angle had remained champ since 2007 to the present? Then Imagine the box office that would be generated if TNA ever did get its act together and threw the house at bringing in Brock and main evented those two in a match after a 4 year + title reign under Kurt's belt with the history those two already have. If you're a fan of TNA, these are very awesome thoughts on what could have been.
What TNA should do is run their organization like a small market pro sports team. get rid of the high priced older veterans who have limited to no history in TNA now. I already stated in part 1 that I don't mind seeing old wrestlers, but for the sake of TNA guys like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair have no history with the company and continuing to give them face time is simply promoting the sub-industries that are Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, and not beneficial for the long term success of TNA. If Hogan and Flair want to make pro-wrestling appearances anymore they belong in the WWE. If Flair still wants to wrestle, there are a number of indie promotions that I'm sure would love to book him. It would be good for the indie scene to have a guy like Ric Flair.
Running the company like a small market team also means not rushing to sign ex-WWE stars after their contracts expire. Instead, they should go after the guys who never had a legit shot in WWE. I'm not referring to people like the Ken Andersons, Kendricks and Matt Hardys of the world - these are talents that despite what they'll tell you, had their shots to succeed in WWE, they just don't have 'it.' I'm sorry, but Ken Anderson is not Steve Austin. I know that's what TNA is trying to do with him, and I see that there are some parallels between their two career paths, but it's simply not there.
I don't want to disparage Anderson too much because clearly this is a solid talent who can work - but he suffers the same fate as many wrestlers today in that he has had too much success already without any kind of organic back story to his rise. A talent like Anderson would have been better served (and this goes for a lot of WWE stars as well) if he'd been involved in a tag team in a competitive tag team division for a number of years before rising as a singles competitor... but that's neither here nor there.
But back to the idea of running the company like a small market sports franchise: In fact, I'm referring to refinding guys like Elijah Burke - a talent who TNA did a masterful job of repackaging (but not promoting). Find talent that's not looking to be world champion because they're hard workers - but guys with personality who simply love to perform and willing to dedicate themselves to the company and image given to them. I'm not saying a D'Angelo Dinero is world champion material, nor is he going to sway ratings points. But neither is Anderson. Devoting time to make Anderson appear as a viable contender to Angle is silly, nobody is buying it. Instead, establish Angle as your world champion - and little sub cults of followers can root on the characters TNA creates a-la the D'Angelo Dinero type projects. Then let these talents battle it out to be the next contender to Angle. That should be their goal and understanding.
It's a long road to hump, and already there has been 4 year setback. Maybe next decade we'll get those wrestle wars going again. I'm not holding my breath though.