srijeda, 24. travnja 2013.

Talking to Myself: Short History of TNA

Written for The Wrestling Game
    Hello people of TWG™ and whoever stumbled upon this article! I am Ninoslav Maricic and I will be your host for another episode of "Talking to Myself". In this article, I will be talking about the history of TNA (or Impact Wrestling as some call it today). Originally, I wanted to write about the history of WWE, but I am too lazy to go trough 61 year old history of the number one wrestling promotion today, so number two it is! Some of the info was taken from Wikipedia.

    Well, once upon a time there was a wrestling organization called WCW. After WCW was sold to WWF (you can read about that in my previous article called "Rewriting History"), Jeff Jarret and his father Jerry Jarret went fishing with their friend Bob Ryder. While they were fishing (honestly, I think they just went drinking), Jarrets have decided to form a new wrestling organization that would rival WWF which was at the time the only wrestling product on US national TV. Since a lot of TV stations thought that wrestling was "risky business", they eventually decided to run their shows as weekly PPVs.

    Since their company started as a member of National Wrestling Alliance, they called it NWA Total Nonstop Action. Their first show aired on June 19th 2002 and after a while they were able to get a TV deal from Fox Sports. Their show was called TNA Impact and it featured their famous six sided ring for the first time. One year later, Fox Sports decided not to renew their TV deal with TNA and TNA had to start making webcasts broadcasting from their website, using BitTorrent (yes kids, you can use BitTorrent for something other the illegal downloading) and RealPlayer.

   Later, they were able to close a TV deal with Spike TV and return to weekly TV programing. I the attempt to become more competitive with WWE, they have decided to run Impact on Mondays and they went back to four sided ring. Since that backfired, soon they were back to their Thursday slot (lucky for them Spike TV people were smart enough to keep it open by running reruns of Impact on Thursdays).

   Eventually, TNA was sold in full to Panda Energy International, a company that constructs, maintains and operates environmentally friendly power plants. The company is family business owned by Robert W. Carter (father of Dixie Carter). Apparently, she talked her father into buying TNA to save it from bankruptcy when HealthSouth Corporation (largest owner and operator of inpatient rehabilitative hospitals in the United States that was involved in a corporate accounting scandal after being accused of directing company employees to falsely report grossly exaggerated company earnings in order to meet stockholder expectations) decided to withdraw their support. And now you know how Dixie Carter became the president of TNA.

   TNA tried various ways to make themselves look different then other wrestling promotions. Aside from a hexagonal ring, they also formed the X Division. They didn't want it to look like a cruiserweight division (even though most of the performers were below 220 lbs), so they advertised it as "It's not about weight limits, it's about no limits". Most people loved the hexagonal ring and the X Division and were disappointed with the arrival of Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan who decided to bring back the four sided ring and pretty much turn the X Division into the cruiserweight division.

    A few bad decisions later, a lawsuit against WWE that went nowhere and storyline recycling, TNA ended up being a product it is today: A bad copy of WWE trying to get ratings that will endanger WWE's top spot and failing miserably. When WWE officials were contemplating renaming WWE to World Entertainment (since the company has "moved on" from being just a wrestling company in their "humble" opinions) TNA decided to change their brand name to "Impact Wrestling" (because to them "wrestling matters"). That decision was yet another fail to get more ratings because even though "wrestling matters" to TNA, it seems that TNA doesn't matter much to wrestling. Unless you are from the UK. Rumors are that TNA tends to beat WWE rankings there.

   Well, this is all I have for you this week. I am Ninoslav Maricic and you were reading "Talking to Myself: Short History of TNA". I will be back next week with another article and until then, I bid you adieu!

četvrtak, 18. travnja 2013.

Talking to Myself: Rewriting History

Written for The Wrestling Game
    Hello people of TWG™ and whoever stumbled upon this article! I am Ninoslav Maricic and I will be your host for another episode of "Talking to Myself". In this article, I will be talking about WWE and their everlasting need to change what has happened in the past just to make themselves and their stupid ideas look good.

    Honestly, I had no idea what I was going to write about this week. I wanted to write about the Divas and Knockouts, but it seems one of the other writers was writing about Divas last week, so I was stuck with nothing to write about (well, there is always something to write about - I just couldn't think of a topic).

    I was excited about Smackdown show last week. I couldn't wait to watch it just to see how the crowd will react after the best Raw episode ever (in my opinion) that I wrote about last week. If you read my article and watched Smackdown I am sure you know that I was disappointed. Raw was no better this week either. I guess CS was right when he wrote that if you want that kind of pop, you would have to have every Raw in NYC (read the comment on my last article).

    Now, even though I was disappointed in both Raw and Smackdown shows, one thing caught my eye and gave me an idea for an article. I forgot which show had that segment, but WWE decided to show a recap of Cena's post Wrestlemania celebration on last week's Raw. Naturally, it was edited "slightly".

    I am not going to lie. My memory is not very good. I work a lot, I don't sleep much, I am married and have a kid. The only time I have some peace is late at night while my wife and kid are sleeping, unless I work at night (which is often). Then I have some time while the wife is at work and the kid is in the kindergarten, but that also means I won't sleep much... and I digressed again.

    Anyway, WWE showed the recap of Cena's .segment last week and even though I remember people booing so loud that you almost couldn't hear any cheers (but if you look at the paragraph above you will see why I could be wrong), the recap had nothing but cheers and happy faces in it. That reminded me of a little hobby WWE has: Rewriting history and selling people false information. For example, everybody loves The Rock, right? They like him so much that they are forgetting that in his "prime" the people's champion was like John Cena in some ways. One way is that (contrary to what WWE wants people to remember) not everybody liked The Rock. Just like there are "Lets go Cena" and "Cena sucks" chants alternating during John Cena's matches, "Lets go Rocky" and "Rocky sucks" chants were alternating during Dwayne's matches. I guess that after he left WWE to become a big movie star (which hasn't happened yet, no matter what WWE says) people forgot about that. I am sure that some people will say that The Rock already is a big movie star, but as long as people refer to him as "that guy from Scorpion King" and then other people ask "What is Scorpion King?", he will not be a big movie star in my eyes.

    So, WWE has been doing things like that for a long time. Not only did they start storylines and then abandoned them pretending they never happened (kind of what TNA has been doing), they are also flat out lying about their biggest "win" ever. Their acquisition of WCW and their victory in "Monday Night War".

    This story has been told over and over again. WCW and WWE were duking it out for ratings in the mid and late 1990's. WCW was on top for over a year and then WWE (WWF at the time) took over the rankings and eventually bought WCW. It was a great victory for WWE and their chairman Vince McMahon and everyone has been bowing down to him ever since. Like in every war, the winners wrote the history and soon Vince McMahon shaped the history the way he liked it. He bought WCW because his company was better, he bought WCW because WCW's ratings were so bad they had to sell it and the ratings were bad because Vince is a genius and he made WWE the best wrestling company in the world all by himself...  and WCW ruined everything.

   Lets forget for a moment that all wrestling promotions have people that write storylines, people that work behind the scenes and (of course) people who perform in the ring and that all Vince had to do is say "We'll do this and won't do that" and concentrate a bit on the facts that actually "destroyed" WCW.

    When WCW was at the top, it was owned by Time Warner company. WCW had a drop in ratings and WWF was at the top when they bought WCW, but the reason WCW was being sold was not bad ratings. The reason for sale was Time Warner merging with AOL who had no interest in WCW. Rumors are that Eric Bischoff had a group of investors that offered 60 million $ to buy WCW, but AOL was in charge of Time Warner and the ordered TNT and TBS to terminate all wrestling, basketball and baseball programs. Since there was no TV deal included in the sale of WCW, Eric Bischoff and his group of investors decided to back down and WWF remained the only interested party whose interest was WCW name, logo and video archive (30 or so years of footage that was worth a fortune all by itself). Rumors are that WWF bought WCW for 6 million $.

    These days WWE has the largest archive of wrestling videos and they like to show them off as WWE's past events even though, at the time of the making, most of those videos had nothing to do with WWE (or WWF) or the almighty Vince McMahon and his team of trained monkeys.

   Well, I could go on and on about this topic, but I would like to leave some material for another time and I don't want to stretch this article for too long (also, I just looked at the time and I have to go). I am Ninoslav Maricic and you were reading "Talking to Myself: Rewriting History". I will be back next week with another article and until then, I bid you adieu!

nedjelja, 14. travnja 2013.

Talking to Myself: Best Raw Ever

Written for The Wrestling Game
   Hello people of TWG™ and whoever stumbled upon this article! I am Ninoslav Maricic and I will be your host for another episode of "Talking to Myself". In this article, I will be talking about Raw that aired on April 8th 2013.

   I have been watching wrestling for a long time and I can honestly say that I have never seen a more entertaining episode of Raw and the fact that it was the best episode of Raw had nothing to do with anything WWE did. It had nothing to do with the matches that were scheduled, wrestlers that appeared on the show or promos they held. The reason why I liked that show was the fans.

   The show started with John Cena coming out to flash his newly won WWE championship belt, just to get booed by the audience. By the way, did anyone notice the new shirt he was wearing? "The champ is here" with an arrow pointing downward? Sure, there is a WWE title belt drawn below the arrow, but please don't tell me you didn't find that shirt funny. Basically implying that the champ is... you know... No?

   Anyway, Cena came out to suck up to the fans as usual and got booed so loud you could barely hear the cheers. I'm sure everyone is already used to it, but I don't understand why is he still doing it. I understand that he and WWE want the people to like him, but can't they see that what they are doing is not working? The kids love him, so they can't make him do a heel turn (it would be like shooting the Santa and Easter bunny on live TV), but if they want people to like him, all they have to do is make him stop sucking up to the fans. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin never sucked up to the fans. The Undertaker never sucked up to the fans. Kane never sucked up to the fans. Everybody hated The Rock until he said "You know what? I hate you too!".

   I digressed. Anyway, during the entire show the fans were cheering the "wrong" people and chanting  the "wrong" names. They even hummed Fandango's theme during his match with Kofi Kingston. Naturally, thanks to that John Cena decided to do a little dance during his match with Mark Henry to suck up to the fans again.

   The biggest surprise to me was the match between Sheamus and Randy Orton. Looking at the achievements of these two one would say that that match is a high profile match worthy of a PPV main event. And the audience loves these two, right? Well, the match barely started and the fans decided to start a "boring" chant. They started that same chant a few more times during the match along with "Randy Savage", "RVD", "EC Dub", "JBL", "Jerry" and "Cole" chants. That's right, folks! The fans were chanting Michael Cole's name during Orton vs. Sheamus match! The fans hated that match so much that they actually chanted "Thank you Big Show!" when Big Show came out to interfere in the match.

   Dolph Ziggler finally cashed in his "Money in the Bank" briefcase to win the World Championship title. The fans loved it even though Dolph never sucked up to the fans either. They hated Cena's countout victory over Mark Henry. Mark Henry decided to attack John Cena after the match ended, but Ryback stopped him. Ryback then attacked John Cena and the fans loved it. It seems that if you want the fans to love someone, all you have to do is have them attack John Cena.

   I have checked the WWE website and in their recap of Raw they thanked the fans for their participation and their enthusiasm during the show. They also wrote that they are glad they had fun. I would have no problem with that if only the fans didn't have to entertain themselves. They literally stole the show and they are the ones responsible for that show being so good. WWE should have payed them to be on that show and the wrestlers that were on the show should have bought tickets to perform there.
   I haven't seen Smackdown yet, but I do hope that the fans continue to act like that. Boo people you are supposed to cheer, cheer people you are supposed to boo, chant the names of the people that are not even in the match, etc. Maybe even chant someones name and then boo him when he comes out or go nuts when a "nobody" enters the ring and let the "big stars" hear crickets when they enter the ring. Also start "boring" chants at random during matches and promos no matter who is in the ring. Promoters and bookers are already confused as it is and have no idea what to do and I would love to see them go crazy over the reactions from the audience if things like that start happening.

   This could be the beginning of a new era in professional wrestling. An era in which the people will tune in to see what will the wrestling fans come up with and do to confuse the bookers, promoters and even the performers in the ring.

   Meanwhile, Fandango's theme went high in iTunes charts (number 2 in UK, number 3 in USA, number 10 in Australia). In fact, some say that it went higher then any other WWE song ever did. People started requesting that song to be played at various sports events and everyone is "Fandangoing" to it (look it up if you never heard of "Fandangoing"). Fandango's theme song is the new hit in the world and even though some say that this is a chance for WWE to capitalise big on Fandango, I would have to disagree. It will most likely blow over soon and even if it doesn't, WWE will find a way to screw it up.

   Well, this all I have for you this time. I am Ninoslav Maricic and you were reading "Talking to Myself: Best Raw Ever". I will be back next week with another article and until then, I bid you DAH DAH DAH DAH DA DA DA DA DA!

nedjelja, 7. travnja 2013.

Talking to Myself: Wrestling and Substance Abuse

Written for The Wrestling Game

  Hello people of TWG™ and whoever stumbled upon this article! I am Ninoslav Maricic and I will be your host for yet another exciting (or not) episode of "Talking to Myself". In this article, I will be talking about substance abuse in professional wrestling.

  So, professional wrestling is a sport that has no off season. People (are supposed to) compete all year long, every week with little to no time off. Even though everything is scripted and pro wrestling is a world where nothing is real (according to Bret "The Hitman" Hart), injuries happen all the time and painkillers are so easy to get addicted to. There is that and also there is good old human stupidity.

  With pro wrestling "evolving" from a few simple moves wrestlers used to execute to a modern day product where the action gets faster and faster and moves get more and more dangerous, the injuries have gotten much worse and happen more often then before. Also, since WWE turned into a beauty contest after the fall of WCW and the end of "Monday Night Wars", there is more and more steroid abuse (Brock Lesnar is having a history of abdominal problems? You don't say!)

  In recent years we have seen WWE trying to put a stop to substance abuse with some (I dare say limited) success. After what happened to Eddie Guerrero, WWE has decided to make sure their superstars take tests to ensure that they are not using illegal substances (their well known "Wellness Policy"). Fail the test once, you are suspended for a month, fail the test twice, you are suspended for three months, fail the test three times, you are off to TNA for a second (third, fourth, fifth, etc) chance.

  Without mentioning people whose deaths are also linked to substance abuse (like Miss Elizabeth, Bam Bam Bigelow, Chris Benoit...), I would like to talk about more recent "incidents" involving some of the pro wrestling's top stars. Starting with:

Jack Swagger

  Did I say top stars? I meant top stars and this guy. This guy was never liked much (unless you are from Oklahoma) and he still got pushed a few times. Recently, he was away from TV and then they finally found something for him to do. They gave him Zeb Colter and put him in a heel xenophobic patriot storyline. The storyline works great (no thanks to Jack or his swagger) and all Jack has to do is scream "We, the people!". Jack won the number one contender Elimination Chamber match and he will be facing Alberto Del Rio in a match for the World Championship title at Wrestlemania (or did face already, depending on when you are reading this article).

  Now, what do you do when you get a chance like that in a company that is allegedly frowning upon the people who abuse substances? You get yourself arrested for DUI (driving under the influence). It also seems to help if you are arrested for DUI while you got some of the illegal substance left with you (for more info, google "Jack Swagger DUI Arrest"). So what does your company that is allegedly frowning upon the people who abuse substances do? Nothing, I guess. He is still in WWE, he is still the number one contender for one of their top titles and he is still going to Wrestlemania. Sure, he will probably lose the match and be gone from TV again, but I'll believe it when I see it.

  Anyway, this is yet another opportunity WWE wasted on the wrong person (and they say WCW ruined everything). They would be better off if they gave Zeb Colter to somebody else. Maybe Fandango. It would be better then that dancing thing he does. Or maybe they could have combined the two by having him say "We, the people!" the same way he says his name. Maybe even have him and Zeb tango down the ramp together. I bet that would get a few laughs. It wouldn't be the craziest thing WWE did either.

Jeff Hardy

  Here is a guy that calls himself "The Charismatic Enigma" and his fans "The Creatures of the Night". His hobbies include painting his hair, painting his nails, painting his face, getting really high to jump at people while executing some of his moves and just getting really high.

  So, long story short, he was in WWE, he failed their "Wellness Policy", got suspended, learned nothing from it, went to TNA, got a second chance, got a world title, showed up for a PPV main event in no shape to compete and disappointed everyone by losing the match to Sting after one move. Fans were very vocal about it (unfortunately, I can't write what they were chanting here) and Sting agreed with them (I'm sure everybody did).

  Luckily for Jeff Hardy, WWE has a policy to pay for rehab for any WWE superstar (past or present) and Jeff decided to take them up on it (I bet they hate it when that happens). He went to rehab, got better (I guess), came back to TNA, got his second second chance and haven't failed his employers and his fans (yet). We'll see what the future brings for this guy and I really do hope he doesn't fumble again (even though I can't say that I am his fan).

Randy Orton

  Randy Orton is a third generation wrestler who was called a "Legend Killer" and who was (I'm not sure if he still is) known as the youngest WWE champion ever. He is also known as a guy who signed a 10 year contract with WWE and in the meantime failed the "Wellness Policy" twice. And even though Vince McMachon was very disappointed in him, at least we all found out why Randy Orton hears voices in his head.

  So, he is back after his second suspension, he got pinned at Elimination Chamber by Jack Swagger to lose his shot at Alberto Del Rio and he had to join Sheamus and Big Show to face "The Shield" in order to get his ticket for Wrestlemania (and it's likely "The Shield" will win that match). He still has one more shot to get fired from WWE by failing the "Wellness Policy" third time and then he can look for his "second chance" in TNA. And maybe he can get Kennedy fired again (sorry The Bouncer, I couldn't resist).

  Well, this all I have for you this time. I had to cut it short a bit since I'm close to deadline again, it's almost 3 am, I got to work in the morning (even though it's Sunday) and I need my beauty sleep. I am Ninoslav Maricic and you were reading "Talking to Myself: Wrestling and Substance Abuse". I will be back next week with another article and until then, I bid you adieu!