"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ..." -Professor Sybill Trelawney, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
I had a really bad day on Monday, July 9. Just the worst -- the kind in which you wake up to other people yelling, you eat Checkers out of depression and a delicious attempt at suicide, and Groupon sells out of that Burberry Brit perfume half-off deal you were gunning for, but your friend got it because you TOLD HER ABOUT IT, UGH. Anyway, I came home from a long day of bureaucratic bullshit at the office and was looking to settle into the imprinted butt grooves of the couch with a turkey sandwich and watch some action in the squared circle. But as I listened to the shit show that was pouring out of the surround sound speakers into my family's defenseless living room, I realized in that moment I had actually wished I had actually been watching an actual TNA PPV from the night before.
Now, I don't want to do a side-by-side comparison of the two televised events because it's just not fair to compare apples to flaming piles of badger shit, but what I WOULD like to look at is the possibility that there is simply no place for two quality live wrestling companies on television. Perhaps it's just The Way The World Turns, or maybe there's some scientifically rationalized parasitic relationship that ensures that one company is always completely drained of life while the other evolves into a fucking Charizard at rapid speed. Either way, every time something gains a little momentum, the other side is perpetually losing steam and struggling desperately to keep up; and, thus far, the WWE has always come out on top in the end. Does this mean Vince McMahon truly has the business on lock, or is their sheer dumb luck ultimately a nonrenewable resource? I mean, it's probably sustained on fossil fuel from the forgotten remains of El Gigante, but even THAT carcass has to run out eventually, right?
When WCW began to legitimately challenge the WWF's status as the Regina George of pro wrestling, it was a huge blow to the company. The New World Order was gaining momentum, and they were seen as unstoppable. And, according to the ratings from 1996 to 1998, they were. WCW was bringing in fresh new faces who were showcasing true displays of talent in their Japanese and Mexican-style wrestling -- the smaller, high-flying stuntmen like Rey Mysterio were a real novelty when compared to the typical American grappling. And Chris Jericho had all that impressive hair.
It took awhile, but eventually the WWF retorted with some excellent creative juices of their own, like DX invading "Nitro" Tiananmen Square-style and basically anything Stone Cold decided to do to encourage the "Attitude" brand that is still synonymous with one of the greatest periods in the company's history. And with a swift, "Quick! Deploy the boobs, Captain," Sunny and Sable caused an entire male generations' voice to drop. After a while more of the Monday Night Wars shenanigans, WCW started caving into their own success like any aged star is wont to do (as in a big ball of gas, not a celeb, but I guess it's relevant to them as well, and maybe that's why they call them stars. You, dear readers, just read an actual, serious epiphany.) Likewise, the nWo concept became a bloated, overdramatized Rehab Potentials on Parade, PPV disasters like Starrcade '98 were the norm, buy rates seriously suffered when primo matches like Hogan v. Goldberg were given out like free keychains, Kevin Nash was booking himself into everything but your mother's asshole (and then sometimes also your mother's asshole), and Vince Russo continued to be a living organism. And finally, the WWF bought out the company in 2001 with one fell swoop to Ted Turner's then-middle aged nutsack. KING IN THE NOOOOORTH!
Once-in-a-lifetime-matches! Right here, get yer once-in-a-lifetime-matches! Oh, no, sonny boy -- keep your dollar! Here's one for you, and another to bring home to Mom and Dad. And one for Grampa Joe, I heard he hasn't gotten outta bed in awhile.
Now compared with my "Diet Lite Rise and Fall of the WCW," TNA has been keeping up with the WCW legacy of hiring the industry leftovers (with Hogan and Ric Flair, you know, somehow still a part of this rinse-reuse-recycle process), much to the chagrin of basically everyone. Where's Goldberg when you need him? And just as WCW desperately clung to their glory days, the WWE is currently finding solace in the things that made them unique. As a huge social media proponent, I understand their rationale for making a hashtag and trying to make Tout happen in the same way that I say "I mean, I GET it," when one of my friends is a big slut and decides to justify it with some roundabout logic about who texted whom and saying, "But I meannnnn" a lot. Just because I concede with a well-placed I Mean I Get It doesn't actually mean I think it's a great idea, honey. Now with an extra hour (75% of which will somehow be basically a live-feed Reddit, God help us all) to fill in an already-bloated "Monday Night RAW," the WWE is not doing itself any favors by giving more Internet and screen attention to what Boxxy's AJ's libido should do next.
But still, here we are at another crossroads, wondering if the WWE still has it in them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and rise to the occasion to put TNA in their place, or at least figure out how two shows can co-habitate on the airwaves successfully. Is that even possible? Will everything eventually balance out and we'll get TWO companies dishing out a reliably solid product? If not, who do we want to ultimately fail (if we need a loser and a winner at all), and what would that ultimately mean for the business…again? I just don't know.
However, if there's one thing wrestling business history and Jo Rowling has taught me, it's that neither can live while the other survives. But who will this survival-of-the-fittest match ultimately claim as its next victim? Maybe I'm violently overreacting to one bad episode of RAW. Or 12. Maybe we're just too blinded by smarky satisfaction at Austin Aries carrying the TNA Championship that we can't separate our feelings from rationality. Or maybe TNA is finally hitting its stride.
But can we please just take a second to imagine TNA-branded Best of WrestleMania releases in 2024 on HMLDFS (Holographic Magic LaserDisc From Space, which I imagine is the BluRay of tomorrow.) JEFF JARRETT WOULD BE THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION. WHO/WHAT/WHY/HOW?
Oh, by the way, everyone: LOOK HERE, SHIT SMEARS. I COULD HAVE CONVINCED MY BABY COUSIN TO WRITE A STORYLINE IN WHICH THE ANONYMOUS RAW GM WAS HORNSWOGGLE. NO. I WILL GROW A DICK SO I CAN SHOVE IT DOWN YOUR THROAT AND CHOKE YOU WITH IT; I HATE YOU.
Whew. Alright, move along…nothing to see here...
Sara Solano wrote half of this in a budget meeting for the city she is currently employed by. The government of the State of Florida paid her about $40 to outline this article about professional wrestling and minor Harry Potter references. Sara is America. Follow her on Twitter @saraisswell.