A DECADE is a significant landmark for any business, and TNA Impact wrestling should be congratulated for crossing the line this week.
Well, in reality the technical 10-year anniversary is in July, but let’s not be pedantic.
The special Slammiversary at the weekend was a fine wrestling show, and a timely reminder of what this company can achieve when it focuses on its strengths, and crucially on being original.
The schism between wrestling fans has never been so well defined as it is in 2012. When WWE do it well they are phenomenal, but once Mania season is over, they regress to the puerile tacky kids’ show we saw on RAW this week.
If there’s one more joke about the best announcer of all time Jim Ross’ Bells Palsy in WWE programming, FT might just stop watching altogether.
For the record, utterly lacking in taste, and class – and totally hypocritical in a supposedly PG product.
Back to TNA. When the Jarretts put things together in 2002 before the storied schism of their own, no-one gave them a jobber’s chance against Cena of making it to three years, let alone 10.
TNA owes its existence to the financial backing of the Carter family’s Panda Energy group, and the passion of its president, Dixie Carter.
Its continuing appeal is due to the hard work and talent of what FT believes is a unique group of wrestlers – who have the ability to set the standard in the entire industry if they are given the opportunity.
The golden era of 2004-7 saw some of the best wrestling matches of the decade – the three-way series between Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles will linger long in the memory, as a perfect confluence of innovation and in-ring expertise.
It also saw the best acquisition in TNA history, the arrival of Kurt Angle, a man who has consistently turned out the greatest pro-wrestling matches of any other in the business since Bret Hart.
TNA have relied heavily on his quality in recent times. It has created its own stars, AJ Styles is the most important wrestler in the history of the promotion, the man who turned down WWE, and the foundation of a lot of the very best TNA has to offer to this day.
The Guns, Beer Money, and look at new champ Bobby Roode. We may have also seen some of the best career work from vet Bully Ray, now he can’t throw himself around like he used to.
Without doubt, mistakes have been made. Not touring the UK until 2008 being one – FT pleaded with TNA on the subject in person.
But the future is bright – a renewed emphasis on their most important foreign market – the UK, would be welcome.
Styles told me: “It’s amazing. There have been so many classic moments. The critics didn’t give us 10 weeks, or even 10 minutes, when we started out – but thanks to the fans we’re stronger than ever 10 years on.
“And I would especially like to thank all our fans in the UK and Ireland, who have got behind us and made us their top-rated wrestling show on television.”
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