“Roasting Chevy Chase, that’s like shooting fish in a barrel…But roasting Chevy Chase is not as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. It’s as easy as looking at fish in a barrel. It’s as easy as being somewhere near a barrel.”-Todd Barry.
Let me start out by saying: I love Chevy Chase. I think he is one of the funniest movie comedians of all time, and every time I watch “Fletch” or “Vacation,” something Chevy Chase does makes me laugh like it is the first time all over again.
Now that this has been established, allow me to reiterate the opinions of everyone else in the world.
Chevy Chase is an asshole.
A totally unlikable, polarizing, sexist asshole.
Now, those aren’t fabrications. Several articles, books and sources have confirmed it, but nothing confirmed it like his Comedy Central Roast in 2002 when he appeared onstage to find that almost NONE of his friends in the entertainment business showed up to support him…because he hardly had any friends.
That led to the most awkward roast ever that sticks out in my mind because of the quote that opened this very article.
Todd Barry’s joke may be my favorite roast joke ever, and I repeat it as appropriately as I can in everyday situations.
I don’t believe there is any more appropriate usage of this joke than applying it to TNA.
That is when it struck me like a Backfist to the Future. TNA is the Chevy Chase of the wrestling world.
TNA and Chevy started out the same: almost accidently. TNA was grown out of Jeff Jarrett’s inability to return to WWE and a need to provide competition for Vince McMahon. Chevy Chase was originally supposed to just be the head writer for SNL but ended up becoming a cast member due to his knack for physical comedy.
Upon their arrival on the scene, it became apparent that things were different about each for different reasons. Chevy Chase was the only one in the cast that appeared completely comfortable in his skin in front of a live TV audience. TNA, on the other hand, threw as much shit on the wall to be different and stick. It didn’t matter if it was Toby Keith suplexing Jeff Jarrett or weekly PPVs, TNA was trying, but not necessarily succeeded.
Eventually, both Chase and TNA stuck out. Chevy was the unmitigated superstar in SNL’s first season and left to pursue a movie career that materialized magnificently. Some thought Chevy had the potential to be that generation’s Johnny Carson or Bob Hope.
TNA was breaking new ground with the X Division. Guys like AJ Styles, Low-Ki, Jerry Lynn, Chris Sabin and Christopher Daniels were getting quality time to show the world what they could do in a wrestling ring, and the buzz surrounding TNA was strong, even among the first evil reign of Vince Russo.
Chevy had “Three Amigos” and the “Vacation” series and “Caddyshack.” TNA got people talking with a six-sided ring, hot WWE castoffs like Raven and Jeff Hardy and great matches.
Stagnation eventually sets in and backtracking begins. Some of Chevy’s films bomb (“Memoirs of an Invisible Man,” anybody?) at the box office and he isn’t warmly received as host of the Oscars. TNA fails to bring in Hulk Hogan, loses its TV deal and struggles to stay afloat despite a pretty solid product (this time, hindered by the dictatorship of Jeff Jarrett’s title reigns).
Alas, the phoenix always rises and Chevy and TNA both looked to be on their way into the Pantheon when Chevy received his own late-night talk show on FOX and TNA secured a cable TV deal with WWE’s old network, Spike. From here, naturally, Chevy Chase lived up to his hype and became the king of late-night and TNA traded victories on a consistent basis with WWE.
Sadly, neither of those things happened. Chevy’s show was one of the biggest failures in TV history. TNA, caught up in its own silliness, started to become a giant laughingstock within the wrestling business. The X Division was no longer groundbreaking, the booking was convoluted, and WCW lived on in the worst way with Impact!
“Cops and Robbersons” essentially equals any Abyss feud. “Man of the House” was a squandered opportunity like Kurt Angle’s arrival in TNA. “Snow Day” screams “Samoa Joe being pushed down the card” to me.
What was once promising and successful was turning into a punchline.
Then…what is this? A resurrection! Chevy Chase begins somewhat of a comeback in films and gets a great role on the critically acclaimed NBC show “Community.” TNA breaks open the bank and brings in Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Ric Flair and Jeff Hardy and take it to Vince McMahon on Monday nights.
For a moment, it looked like a great story could be written of both of these cases. Chevy becomes a veteran comedic figure on a popular TV show and receives praise for it, and TNA ditches some of their gimmicks, gives AJ Styles a chance to shine as champ, and brings in star power to compete.
Naturally, it was too good to be true. TNA becomes, arguably, worse than ever under Hogan and Bischoff’s regime, Russo’s even worse booking than usual, and there's a lack of interest from their own fans. Chevy becomes irritated with the creator/writer of “Community” and has a very public war with him over the creative direction of the show.
Each of Chevy’s voicemails reminded me of another airheaded moment in recent TNA history. Every swear word recalls Jeff Hardy’s drunken antics at Victory Road 2011. Every nonsensical babbling brings about a vision of Hogan’s power trip moments (i.e. changing the results to matches he had nothing to do with). Every insensitive comment summons the image of Garret Bischoff becoming an important member of the TNA roster.
Which brings us to the quote that opened this article. For a smart wrestling fan, making fun of TNA isn’t like shooting fish in a barrel…or even looking at fish in a barrel. It is being in the vicinity of a barrel.
Just like Chevy Chase, that joke is so true, it is sad.
But one never knows. Maybe Chevy can rebound once more and get back in the good graces of the public eye... and Hollywood, for that matter. With the recent creative changes and revamp of Impact, TNA could do good things for the business and finally challenge the monopoly in Stamford.
Until then, Chevy and TNA are just swimming around, waiting to be shot…or looked upon.
Instead of just being there.