Saturday, November 29, 2014

Spin Cycle: British-American Fusion

Welcome to the return of the Spin Cycle, our roundtable column discussing some of the main topics in TNA Wrestling. On this episode, we discuss TNA's new TV deal, thoughts on British Boot Camp, a potential hardcore championship and funniest wrestling memories. Let's meet our panel:

  • JSO – Director of TNAsylum
  • Talon – Writer of “The Mind of Talon”
  • Jason Blade – Writer of “Knockout Shots” and “Blade's Edge”
  • Adam Davey – Owner of V2 Journal, partner of

What is your take on TNA's new television deal with Destination America?

TALON: First of all, I am happy that they could land a deal. When push comes to shove, TNA is still on TV when many thought they would be dead. The deal clarifies TNA’s role in the wrestling world though and solidifies WWE’s role as #1.

There are pros and cons about this deal. The cons are simple: Spike is in many more homes than Destination America, which means they are available to more wrestling fans. Even if many TNA fans migrated from Spike, there is a chance that they can’t get the new network making TNA unavailable to them. Because of this, there is almost a guaranteed drop in viewership (likely significant).

The other con is that it is rumored that Destination America is paying less than Spike. TNA has been cutting back its budget for the past few years so any hit to their finances will hurt them. I personally have an issue with their production (lighting etc.). As a fan who is a stickler about presentation, this could hurt them.

The positives are that Destination America will be behind them. Unlike Spike who in many ways treated TNA like a redheaded stepchild, Destination America is acknowledging TNA as their show horse. They are building their network with TNA in a prominent role. Hopefully the support will grow both audiences.

Another pro is that TNA will be getting additional programming. This is a good way to expand the TNA product. Since 2005, it has been solely about IMPACT and not about other additional programming. Hopefully with Destination America, we get PPVs on TV (such as Genesis, Lockdown etc.). Maybe even One Night Only specials as well. This could give TNA fans a lot of programming to watch and really expand the product and its characters.

JSO: To me, it’s all about opportunity. Yes, TNA is moving to a smaller network and will probably lose a lot of viewers, but you have to consider the big picture in this case. It's very similar to when somebody leaves a major company – they're going from a bigger place to a smaller place, which may be a step down at first but allows more room for personal growth.

So far Destination America seems like the ideal partner for TNA. You have a network that’s willing to advertise the product, give them more programming, and even travel to TNA headquarters to talk strategies. Plus, it couldn’t happen at a better time right now with the new year just around the corner and TNA finding their groove since Slammiversary. I'm more intrigued by this so-called "reboot" we keep hearing about come January.

DAVEY: I personally think that this is the perfect move for TNA. The only thing that is missing from their wish list is the money side of things (allegedly). Everything else ticks the wish list in my opinion – Star of the network, advertising, extra TV shows, potential to grow with the network and potential to get on to a mainstream channel (Discovery) should it go well. If Spike had offered the same money as their last contract, I still would have favoured this move over staying on Spike. The money part of it is important but not as important as the other things.

BLADE: I really like the new deal and am quietly optimistic about where things can go with the partnership. I'm aware that D.A. is available in fewer homes than Spike but I think that the upside of being involved with Discovery offsets the lost of availability. Right now, it seems like extra programming is going to be a given as part of the new deal and for creating extra revenue, that should be a huge plus for TNA. Everyone seems to add the asterisk that this is almost certainly a lower paying deal for TNA but I honestly think that that doesn't have to be a bad thing; in fact, it could be the best thing to ever happen to TNA because it could force them to do exactly what they do best, showcase a simple yet exciting wrestling show.

Who do you think will win British Boot Camp 2? Assuming TNA announces a third season, what would you keep or change about the show?

JSO: I think it all boils down to one simple question: Who does TNA need to fill a particular role? Mark Andrews is a young, charismatic high flyer and can be a future X Division Champion. Noam Dar is a gifted wrestler for his age, but hasn't shined the way I thought he would. Dave Mastiff and Rampage Brown look like bad asses and can be a great monster tag team. Grado is a cult favorite, but so is Shark Boy and he doesn't have a contract with TNA.

That leaves us with Kay Lee Ray, my pick to win the show. She looks like Lita, wrestles like Sarita and is even younger than Rosita – I wouldn't pass on someone like that. The Knockouts could use the most talent right now, and I think Kay Lee Ray has the most potential to succeed right away.

British Boot Camp 2 has been an awesome show this year. The first season was too much of a reality show, whereas this season actually feels like a "boot camp" to find the next TNA superstar. The only changes I can think of would be to bump the season to 10 one-hour episodes, cut down on some of the goofy auditions, and get rid of Al Snow as a judge. I don't mind the scripted aspect of the show, as long as they keep it subtle.

DAVEY: They need to stay away from a scripted element such as the Grado stuff. These storylines make the show feel less legit. The show should feel like a proper competition and scripted animosity makes the whole contest feel predetermined.

I hope that Mastiff wins but unfortunately think that Rampage Brown will win it, who for me is the worst of the remaining participants. And for the record, I feel sorry for Grado – he is a top bloke in real life (have shared a few beers with him over the years) and has been handed this storyline which of course he, like anyone would have in his position, has gone along with.

BLADE: I'm not sure who is going to win BBC2 but for the sake of some new blood for my beloved Knockouts Division, I hope it's Kay Lee Ray. I was already pretty familiar with everyone else who is left except for Dave Mastiff and he has impressed the hell out of me and I wouldn't be disappointed to see him win it all; wrestling needs more agile big men like that. As far as the format, I really enjoyed this year's and would like to see them do something similar next year but the one change I'd make is, instead of doing it in different cities, i'd have it start off with a Heavyweight episode, an X Division episode, a Tag Team Episode and a Knockouts episode with maybe 4 acts advancing from each show and then in ensuing episodes, they can begin to wittle the contestants down.

TALON: The six finalists all offer something that TNA can value. Dave Mastiff has the size, Rampage has the look, Mark Andrews has the charisma, Kay Lee Ray would be a great addition to the Knockouts, Noam Dar would be a nice X Division addition. Grado is also an interesting character. He is a fun comedy character that would cater to European fans. The problem with Grado though is that he needs the whole package to complete his character. Is TNA really going to shell out money for rights to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer?” A cheap knockoff would not add anything to Grado.

Any of the six would be nice additions to TNA if presented right. At this point, the show is building up Grado so it seems they see something special in him.

I have really enjoyed British Bootcamp this year and hope TNA gives us an American version in 2015. While many hate it, I liked the scripted elements this year. It gives the show a unique flavor.

Next season, I would like to have more of an elimination process. Maybe 8 or so wrestlers advance to the finals and then every week, one goes home. They compete in a variety of matches such as challenges. I think that could get the fans more invested in each of these wrestlers.

Do you think TNA should create a hardcore championship? Why or why not?

DAVEY: In a word, no. I like Bram – I think he is great but I don’t want to see him become the new Tommy Dreamer or Sabu. At this point, TNA could do with a proper second belt as opposed to a side show belt. No problem with hardcore matches but they should be feud enders, not regular occurences. They are also synonymous with ECW and TNA should concentrate on being TNA and not a fed that went bust 20 years ago.

BLADE: No, no and no. I'm very against the idea of a Hardcore Championship simply because I think the entire Hardcore thing is old hat. ‎Don't get me wrong, I think there is absolutely room for hardcore matches and hardcore gimmicks and wrestlers with that style (I love Bram doing this) but as far as a full time Championship? No. In my eyes, Hardcore matches should be the exception, not the rule and are much more effective when used sparingly. I'd like TNA to focus on its strengths when it comes to titles, four clearly defined divisions, Heavyweight, X Division, Tag Team and Knockouts.

TALON: As a TNA sanctioned championship, I don’t think the company should be adding additional belts right now. Hardcore wrestling to me is where two or more wrestlers finish their feuds. It can be a character trait but shouldn’t be the norm. In WWE, the hardcore division really watered down that aspect of wrestling.

With that said, I wouldn’t be opposed to Bram creating his own title. He is going by the “King of Hardcore” so as a character title, it could be a fun prop to advance his character. We already get a variety of hardcore matches on the show so if that gains momentum, it could eventually lead to a hardcore title and division. As for now, the focus should be on progressing Bram’s character.

JSO: Absolutely not. I think it’s pointless to create a hardcore title. TNA has made it clear they want to focus on just the four main championships: Heavyweight, Tag Team, X Division and Knockouts. If you recall, they had Kurt Angle explain why they dropped the TV title because, quite frankly, they had no idea how to book that title.

The other issue, of course, would be the long-term viability of a hardcore title. Would TNA take it seriously and establish a core group of wrestlers for a hardcore division... or would it turn into a fad like its predecessors from WWF and WCW? I know TNA is pushing Bram as the "King of Hardcore" and whatnot, but I think it's just a phase that'll wear out after the UK tour, at the latest.

There is an old saying that goes, "Someday we'll look back on this and laugh." With that in mind, what is your funniest wrestling memory or experience?

BLADE: I've been watching wrestling for over a quarter of a century and during that time there have been a lot of funny moments but i'll be honest, the ones that make me smile the most are when each calendar year ticks over into a new one and TNA are still alive despite what all the haters have said since 2002. So yeah, that makes me laugh a little.

TALON: Since we are getting Turkey Bowl throwbacks, one of my favorite funny wrestling moments is the Angle Thanksgiving Dinner in 2007. It was really fun to see a variety of characters mix it up in these comedy segment. Awesome Kong chewed on a plastic Turkey leg, Eric Young had to sit at the little kid’s table, Black Reign brought in Misty. I love it when creative and wrestlers go out of their ways to have a good time.

JSO: I always get a kick out of watching wrestlers impersonate each other on TV. The DX parody of the Nation of Domination is still one of my all-time favorite segments, and then in TNA we had the Paparazzi Championship Series and the Jay Lethal/Ric Flair woo off – those were comedy gold.

Also, growing up I used to emulate a lot of wrestling moves for fun. I remember in 1996, Mankind had just debuted in the WWF and was doing this submission move called the Mandible Claw, where he shoved his fingers down his opponent's throat. Being a kid, I didn't realize that his fingers were taped together because I assumed he had a deformed hand as part of his character. So every time I tried that move, I used only my middle finger without knowing what it meant (I found out eventually, so that was kind of embarrassing).

DAVEY: I have 3 that all hold a special place in my heart (and internet search history):

1. Jay Lethal has a “woo off” with Ric Flair. I love the whole segment but the way that Flair does half of his promo with one shoe on, still cracks me up.

2. ECW Zombie. I interviewed him a few years ago due to loving the ridiculousness of this and the story behind it is even funnier than the reality. One of the best interviews that I have done. Let's relive that promo! Uhh uhhhhh uhhhhhhhh!

3. The Ultimate Warrior no selling HHH's pedigree at Wrestlemania 12. Still cracks me up now! Also love most of Edge and Christian's 5 second poses.