By Dustin T. Hull
“Creative has nothing for you.” This phrase alone seems to be a death sentence in the world of wrestling and this logic bothers me beyond belief. When a writer for a television series has nothing for a character, one of two things happens: (1) the actor is not brought in nor remains on the show, or (2) the writer is replaced with someone who can come up with something different for the talent. For as much as we argue that wrestling is a sport, the weekly programs are television shows; the creative aspect should be treated as such.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that a character doesn’t fit into the storyline direction you are trying to steer in. The issue is keeping these characters looming in the background as they float in limbo. I’m sure some inside a company like WWE don't mind hanging around and simply collecting a paycheck like JTG did for 7 years, but as a fan it becomes quite frustrating, especially when we see potential. It feels as if this guy we might like for reasons unknown to the writing staff is simply buying time and while it’s nice to see them every once in a while, it makes us sad to think that if this thing or that had happened, they would be much better off.
This is a delicate balance and I fully respect anyone who can write for a weekly television program. However, if you are being paid to write storylines or angles for characters involved in a television show, I believe that you should be writing for ALL characters on the show, including ways to write them off if you have no plans for them in the near future or due to injuries. If you cannot, there is no shame in receiving some help.
I wanted to discuss this issue because I feel things with Impact from a storyline aspect have seemed stagnant. I can’t put my finger on it because I have enjoyed certain aspects. I loved the refocus on the in-ring product since Slammiversary. It seems that they are allowing matches to tell great stories with time to breathe; excluding Lockdown, to be fair. Certain parts of the Revolution, EY’s heel turn, Bram vs. Magnus (though it felt rushed)… I have enjoyed these things but there seems to be what feels like complacency in the show and it has really affected my enjoyment.
I enjoy the simple approach in the storytelling, but I think it may have been taken to the point where they lost a bit of edge. That’s why when Bram is face to face with Mickie James, it seems to stand out. In the same regard, Bobby Roode cutting promos about his pro wrestling passion seems to fizzle. It’s not that I don’t believe Roode; it’s that he seems to have lost his attitude that made him such a standout star. But my question is, why does it seem that he lost that edge?
I’m struggling because while I think Lagana and Conway have provided us with some great stories over their tenure, I am wondering if another creative member could possibly spark fresh, new ideas. Maybe the dynamic of having a third member to focus on lower card guys would give Lagana and Conway a chance to focus on the main storylines, rather than covering the whole roster.
Guys like Crazzy Steve, Samuel Shaw, Gunner and The BroMans – all have the ability to be utilized in entertaining roles. Another creative member focusing solely on these guys may give them a chance to develop their characters before being randomly inserted into stories. Perhaps that’s why Gunner with Angle seemed more like an “insert wrestler here” moment since Gunner seemed to have no momentum when Kurt approached him.
Ultimately, I have no answers to fix everything I may think to be wrong with Impact and I will never try to tell you that guys like Lagana and Conway should be replaced. They’re the same guys who made Lashley a credible force with how they wrote the story. They’re the same members who have written the role that EC3 plays. I have enjoyed a large body of their work and think they still have a lot to provide. Yet, as a fan I wonder if having their focus condensed on fewer stories being told would give their minds a chance to dive deeper creatively with characters, rather than having to focus on the entire roster at any given moment.
There should never be a moment where “creative has nothing for you” in TNA, especially since a less micro-managed company like TNA allows the talent to discuss the creative process on a more personal level with the writers. These guys who live these characters – or in some cases, created them – should have input on the vision they see for them. Then again, these are simply the rambling thoughts from a fan's perspective…