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Monday Night Musings: Eric Bischoff’s vanity project

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Plane as day: TNA's ratings are sure to nosedive at this rate.

I was floored that last night’s live iMPACT began with an Eric Bischoff “guitar solo” as part of the continuation of his midcard-at-best program with Jeff Jarrett as WWE kicked off its go-home show for what looks to be the biggest WrestleMania card in years. As matter of fact, with Eric “playing” in the darkened arena, at first, I didn’t even know this was iMPACT; I thought the previous program was running long. WWE has its faults, no question, but, overall, they know whom to spotlight–and when. While Shawn Michaels was in the ring on RAW delivering a promo about the most anticipated match of the year with the Undertaker, Bischoff was using TNA as his own personal highlight reel instead of spotlighting say, Jeff Hardy and RVD, two guys who if used correctly, can not only make a difference in ratings but also sell PPVs.

Fact is, while it makes sense for Jarrett to be involved in an angle with the company’s new management, it won’t sell one PPV. Not one. There’s a place for this angle, but not at the show’s opening going head to head with RAW, especially coming off the heels of a PPV. Speaking of which, if you tuned in at the beginning, you wouldn’t know the company even had a PPV the night before, with a controversial (and that’s being kind) finish to the World title match between A.J. Sytles and Abyss. Yes, the crowd at the iMPACT Zone popped when Jarrett smashed the guitar over Eric’s head, but the timing of the segment couldn’t have been any worse from a logical business standpoint.

Again, this isn’t bad booking–this is anti-booking. This is a classic example of the booker involving himself in all the key angles and programs and commanding the spotlight when it goes against good business sense. RVD and Jeff Hardy vs. Beer Money won’t mean anything if the thousands of fans who flip over to RAW during a Bischoff-heavy opening segment like this never come back to learn that about what had the potential to be a hell of a main event…which, in typical WCW fashion, was booked after the midway point of the show. TNA has some players, but they’ve got to them involved and positioned correctly if they are to compete. And their strongest asset–a quality in-ring wrestling product–was again pushed to the background in the show’s first hour with only the Knockouts tag bout (5 minutes) and the Rob Terry squash of Tomko (1 minute) featured before Mick Foley and Jarrett were “forced” to wrestle (about 15 minutes) in the second hour in one of those worthless stipulation matches where the loser is fired…which means Foley will be off TV two, maybe three weeks, tops. I hate to say it, because I still enjoy his matches, but Jarrett’s backstage segments always die…to the point that even Foley can’t save them.

We also got another bloated angle where Hogan cuts a promo saying “it’s no longer personal–just business” with Styles and Ric Flair…and then proceeds to book a steel-cage match with Team Hogan vs. Team Flair. Huh? Then Sting magically appears to handcuff Hogan to the corner. But instead of Styles and Flair getting their heat back on Abyss and the Hulkster, the Pope makes the save, and the World champion (who has been pinned clean in the middle of the ring three times on iMPACT since Jan. 4) was left laying once again. And, of course, Abyss then clotheslines the legendary Nature Boy out of his wheelchair and Dinero shoves a dollar bill down his throat. Oh, I can’t wait for Abyss and Hogan to finally get their revenge within the confines of an impersonal cage match at Lockdown. Oh, wait.

Dinero has the title shot at Lockdown, so his involvement makes sense, but his non-title win is looking a lot less impressive after Abyss and Hardy pinned the champion on consecutive weeks.

And what’s the storyline connection with Hogan and Bischoff? One’s a heel (well, most of the time) and the other is the top babyface. It’s not compelling–only confusing.

Again, it’s simply mind-boggling that RVD and Hardy weren’t involved in the opening segment to promote an intriguing main event matchup featuring two former WWE champions against TNA’s most dominant tag team in recent memory. If you’re not going to build up that matchup for a PPV, then at least give the announcers the entire show to plug it. Even worse: the main event they plugged for next week’s taped show is far less compelling, with Hardy, RVD and Eric Young vs. the Band (Nash, Hall, Waltman), who reunited at the PPV (in a finish more predictable than perhaps any swerve in TNA’s and WCW’s histories combined) and “saved” their jobs. (Yeah, like that’ll put asses in the seats.). Plus, I may have missed it, but have Hardy and RVD cut promos stating the purpose behind their TNA signings–other than wanting “to have fun” and a lighter schedule than WWE’s? Maybe it was no coincidence that Hardy had this deer-in-the-headlights look on his face as the show closed.

  1. March 23rd, 2010 at 12:20 | #1

    TNA is very frustrating because it isn’t totally awful. When they have matches and let the talent do the promos leaving out Hogan and Bischoff I really enjoy the show. Eric shows up way to much and Hogan’s involvement comes off often as goofy. I know TNA can have great matches and promos as was evident at Destination X but when they spend so much time just seemingly killing time instead of doing the good they can do it is very frustrating.
    Only 1 mention of the X-division last night after its “showcase ppv”.

    I did find the Ambulance segment the best I’ve seen in a long time with the kick looking believable, Hernandez bleeding (although that happened before the kick), the shots of the crowd, Homicide showing up, the concerned send off where they mention calling his wife, and even Tenay & Taz selling it very well.
    So to me they can even shoot a better injury angle than WWE has done in a long time (if ever) yet there is still so much time wasting & as you’ve said terrible ppv and live show build up. I think so often during the show “it would have been better if they had mentioned that match earlier on”

  2. William Burnett – Little Rock
    March 24th, 2010 at 02:10 | #2

    Maybe, instead of TNA, WCW or NWA — whatever they think they are & what they want to call themselves, with their tired old retreads & angles from the past — maybe the new name should be NWW … “Not Worth Watching”.

  3. David Fullam
    March 24th, 2010 at 08:18 | #3

    How about a new Pay Per View event? TNA-Egos Unchecked!

  4. Sean D
    March 25th, 2010 at 06:37 | #4

    Sad part is, the rest of the show worked pretty well but doubtful anyone saw it thanks to lame ego-stroking open. It’s not 1997. Open with some of the X-Division guys in a hot match (maybe even in progress as you go live) and save the Bischoff/Jarrett segment (which did set up both the Jarrett/Foley and RVD-Hardy/Beer Money matches) for the second segment with a much shorter guitar bit by Bischoff to bring Jeff out. It’s not Booking 101…it’s Remedial Booking.

    Maybe instead of the classical style solo, they should’ve had Dixie pop for the right to Paul Simon’s “One Trick Pony” for Eric to play.

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