Paul Heyman writes for the Sun these days and has been producing a wealth of great wrestling articles. Heyman’s latest article not only summarizes the challanges facing wrestling today, but also showcases Paul’s genious for marketing wrestling. Here’s an excerpt from his article:
THE pro wrestling industry needs to wake up this morning and realise the audience is not only dwindling, it’s being chased away.
I would suggest it doesn’t take much to see the current format and themes and presentation are all in dire need of a complete overhaul.
Of course, this applies to the dominant global market share holder, World Wrestling Entertainment – with its previously-discussed “Audience of One,” and therefore it applies to the trickle-down creative theory of “we’re number two” – TNA Wrestling.
If you watched TNA IMPACT! this past week, you saw, yet again, a squandered opportunity at the counter-productive levels of WCW at its very worst.
To exacerbate the situation, this inexcusable momentum-killer was coming right out of TNA’s Bound For Glory pay per view in front of an awesome hot crowd in Chicago
TNA is just such a mess. Where does anyone who stands outside their lack of vision even try to begin? Hmmmmm… let’s see.
The “sure thing” Mick Foley seems uncharacteristically uninspired during his promo, and then promises to shake pro wrestling to it’s very foundation on the next show.
Nothing like over-promising. Unless Foley wants to re-institute the X-Division style match and “top everyone else’s performances …. EVER!”
I don’t know what Mick can do to live up to the hype.
I truly hope he does, but it seems the Through The Looking Glass mentality of the backwards world of TNA has lead me to become sceptical of even TNA’s mere desire to deliver the goods.
They have all the talent in the world. Sting, believe it or not, is at the top of his game. He may not have the youth and match-long physical intensity he had in WCW, but he’s a much smarter worker now and his promos have been so focused and good, they’re out of place on the lost TNA programming.
Kurt Angle is a man possessed. The demons inside Kurt drive him to compete with everyone in the known universe, and he hates himself with a passion every single solitary day of his existence that he can’t look in the mirror and say “I see the greatest wrestler in the history of this industry staring back at me.” Kurt is compelled to be the best, which is a strong weapon to have at your disposal.
Samoa Joe is a workhorse who takes great pride in his performances, only he’s booked and produced so terribly, the best thing for Samoa Joe fans to do is to plead with him to jump to WWE just for the chance to break away from the career-contaminating booking he’s suffering through now.
And then there’s the man who turned on Joe, multi-promotion main event star Kevin Nash.
On the television show following his big turn on Samoa Joe, where this now-sinister seven footer has betrayed the trust of the promotion’s biggest house-branded superstar, Nash took the mic and recited a well known Ric Flair promo from the 1980s.
If Nash is going to quote anyone, shouldn’t it be himself? It could have been as easy as “I’ve done it everywhere I’ve gone in my career. This place is no exception. I’m … taking …. over!”
AJ Styles rubs up against the main event, but the promotion sees him as an opponent more than an attraction. Team 3-D can work with anyone, p*** off any crowd, lose every night, and keep their heat. They know exactly what they’re doing.
So, with all this talent, what’s the premise of the show? What’s the theme? What’s the central hook for the next several months? Jeff Jarrett’s return? Kurt Angle’s unhealthy desire to mention Jeff’s family in every promo? Booker’s need to be a legend? Sting’s pursuit of respect from Samoa Joe? Joe’s need to demonstrate his youth yet experience against Sting? The TNA Championship itself?
There is no central theme to the TNA show. No focus. Everything is so structured to get to the next segment and simply “not lose a viewer,” the promotion has lost sight of the necessity, let along the genuine value, of the long term build.
I’m not picking on TNA. To be blunt, they have a wealth of talent at their disposal, strong financial backing into the tens of millions, and a cooperative network. If I sound envious, it’s because I’m looking at the advantages they are simply blowing by narrow-casting and aspiring to be nothing better than WWE Lite.
I actually think WWE deserves more criticism for the falling overall interest level because if anyone should have the forethought to move into the future, it’s World Wrestling Entertainment.
The moneymaking juggernaut is such a strong corporation, yet the directive of and to the creative is weak and antiquated. It’s time for Vince’s vision of sports entertainment to be updated. Check out the new generation of kids watching the shows. What music do they listen to? What styles resonate with them? With whom can they identify?
D/x vs Miz and Morrison. Is it going to be the changing of the guard to a new D-Generation of punks? Or will it be a short term “HHH and HBK rule the WWE universe” demonstration like D/x did with Team rKo already?
Kenny “Doane” Dykstra is 23 years old. Why isn’t he living in the studio, watching how shows are edited, so he learns the mindset of what WWE is looking for in a television product? If you’re a race car driver, wouldn’t you know how the car runs, not just how to drive it?
Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes are excellent in their roles, but can you name anything about their presentation that screams “young and new and different than anything you’ve seen before” instead of just “we look, dress, and wrestle like 35 year old men who are veterans.”
No new style, not even an attempt at a different approach to their marketing and presentation. Think of it this way: While the announcers can tell us all ad naseum how young DiBiase and Morrison are, how many 13 year olds look at that tag team and think they’re younger and more successful than Miz and Morrison?
When I first broke in as “Paul E. Dangerously,” I hated when the old timers would just complain about how good wrestling was in their day, and how it all sucks now, and how back in the good ol’ days blah blah blah.
Let’s be clear on one thing. I’m not talking about the good ol’ days. I don’t want wrestling to look back on old concepts. I’m begging the industry to realise the present style of writing, producing, and presenting wrestling television has simply run its course.