Friday, January 8, 2010

Rant #168: Wrestling Rings Around Anyone Else

I have spoke about professional wrestling in previous entries in this blog.

This is a multi-billion-dollar business which has pushed itself into the mainstream by the maneuverings of one crafty, smart personality, Vince McMahon, the leader of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He has taken what he has--a collection of athletes who are not good enough to be real professional athletes in legitimate sports (some have been pro athletes, but have moved on) but good enough to be professional wrestlers--and molded his brand into one that even non-fans know about.

Names like John Cena, Triple H, Chris Jericho, and Rey Mysterio roll off the mouth like fine gum. But this traveling circus is plastered all over television--worldwide--sells out all over--worldwide--and has made a billionaire out of McMahon.

Heck, his wife, Linda, is even running for office in Connecticut, and let's not forget Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota. He was "The Body" at one time, then he became "The Governor."

Anyway, the WWE has been, and still is, the top wrestling promotion in the world, and nothing is going to take away from that.

However, an upstart has started to steal some of the thunder from the WWE; and the ironic thing is that it is stealing some of the thunder using former WWE stars as its backbone.

Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling, better known as TNA, has a fast-rising weekly TV show on Spike TV, and it has promotions not only in the U.S., but on a worldwide basis.

Started just a few years ago, it is the No. 2 wrestling attraction right now, a poor No. 2 to WWE's dominance, but it has taken great strides to make itself a solid No. 2.

With a backbone of wrestling stars from the WWE--including Kurt Angle, Scott Steiner, and Kevin Nash-- and its own stars--like A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, and Jay Lethal--it has solidified itself with fans who still watch the WWE but have wanted to expand their wrestling reach.

It also has in its stable Sting, a wrestler who has never wrestled in the WWE but is immensely popular.

But it has just signed probably the greatest prize in professional wrestling, the guy who put wrestling on the map in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Hulk Hogan is now part of TNA, and whatever you think about him personally, he is to TNA what Michael Jordan was to the NBA--a star beyond all stars, a guy that even non-believers know about.

Tonight, I am taking my son to our third TNA event. My son is very much like me when I was 14 years old--I loved wrestling then, but back then, it was nothing more than akin to a horse and pony show. It had its devoted following, but it was nothing more than a niche thing.

Today, it is a global phenomenon, so even a house show like the one we are seeing has a lot of significance--especially coming off the Hulk Hogan signing and TNA's recent TV show which went directly against WWE's sold RAW show this past Monday night.

It should be a lot of fun. As long as you take professional wrestling for what it is--a circus, athletic phoniness mixed in with some incredible story lines and a lot of pretty women, some of whom can actually wrestle--you will get its message.

The WWE, TNA, and a myriad of regional entities are bringing fans just what they want, and if fans get just what they want, they will spend lots of money. That was the idea years ago, and it is still the idea now, and the idea is working incredibly well at this point in time.

And you can take that to the mat.

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