Friday, May 29, 2015

When TNA Falls, I Will Feel Bad For...

She might deserve to fail, but so many others she's taking down with her don't
The writing is on the wall for TNA Wrestling right now. Dave Meltzer broke the news last Wednesday that Destination America was using its out clause to cancel Impact in September, and a memorandum floating around seems to corroborate that report (although some doubt its veracity). A week later, the network announced that it would be picking up Ring of Honor to run in the 8 PM ET slot on Wednesdays. While TNA officials spun the news as a partnership between the two promotions that would benefit both companies, the move is clearly more akin to one party beginning to date someone new before the divorce was official. It's worth noting that loss of television doesn't necessarily mean that TNA will close, but for a company that has been a televised product since day one, free or paid, the loss of an outlet for its product is a stunning blow.

Of course, the news has been met with mixed reactions, not the least of which was glee at the crumbling of a welfare state that hadn't been relevant in nearly ten years. I am one of the guilty parties in my gloating over the show's demise, and I admit that I probably went overboard, at least at first. The thing is that the schadenfreude towards those in the company whose failure is deserved may have overshadowed those for whom the closure of the company would devastate, or at the very least inconvenience. For every one shit-hawk corporate slime weasel who deserves to have his or her ventures blow up in their face, the conservative estimate is that at least 20 people working for them will be royally screwed.

With that in mind, should TNA go belly-up, I would feel badly for the wrestlers. In truth, a lot of them would find that leaving TNA would give them better opportunities worldwide. While the television exposure was certainly nice, the rumors of payment compression could have been enough to offset whatever gain in notoriety those wrestlers received from being "on TV." Still, it's steady income that will be going away, and no one should have to deal with the jolt of losing money, especially in a society that views the labor force as expendable, no matter what business that workforce happens to run.

And sure, Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy (and possibly Matt Hardy too) could go back to WWE and sit on Legends deals or part-time contracts that allow for time off given their stature in the business. Ethan Carter III will be a hot free agent that could have his pick of non-WWE promotions (although if Titan Towers had anyone working within them with a modicum of sense, he'd be poached right back as soon as possible). ROH and Global Force Wrestling would also pick up some of the name guys, but what about the folks who don't have name cache and who might not be attractive to bigger-name companies?

What especially of the Knockouts, who will have to go back to working the SHIMMER/WSU/customs grind in order to make up their pay? WWE barely touches male ex-TNA talent, and certainly, it's not going to go back to the well for women unless someone like Triple H holds some sway. Even then, no one knows what his opinions are about TNA (he rarely talks about it). Women in the wrestling industry have it rough, especially on the open market. They're going to be hit the hardest.

I will also feel bad for the rank-and-file behind the scenes workers who may not get another job as seemingly good as what they've had with TNA, even if they've been hit hardest by the company's inability to pay its employees lately. The secretaries, gaffers, pages, graphic designers, and everyone else who isn't on screen and has a genpop role with the company is going to feel the pinch the way an American outside of the wrestling industry gets hit when he/she loses his/her job. Those people aren't going to have shitheads on the Internet like me fantasy booking their next career moves. They aren't going to be the ones the dirtsheets report about. And yet they're presumably being hit the hardest.

I'll also feel bad for the fans of TNA Wrestling. People like to say "fuck 'em" to fans of the company because of a certain "lunatic fringe," but in all honesty, every other area of entertainment has a subset of fans like that. Even a fraction of those arguing against the clearly delusional TNA Mecca folk may or may not be delusional devotees of Meltzer. Leave that entire part of the conversation alone. Rather, if you're a fan of TNA, and now, you can't see the company on TV starting in September, wouldn't you be bummed? Shouldn't you deserve sympathy?

Everyone has had a television show or some kind of piece of entertainment that they like snatched from them. People still mourn the cancellation of Firefly, and it was a one-season show (featuring a misogynist shitheap known as Adam Baldwin in a prominent role) that has been gone for a decade and has allowed its creator the chance to make ungodly sums of money as the director of the first two Avengers movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But that show has left an indelible mark on its fans. I can't tell anyone for whom or for what they can be passionate. Hell, if Chikara went away next week, or if NXT or Lucha Underground got cancelled, I'd be inconsolable. Why should I feel any different for TNA fans? Because a few of them are getting cantankerous with a reporter? Get all the way the fuck outta here.

But I certainly won't feel sorry for the upper crust. I won't feel sorry for Dave Lagana, the soulless PR machine who controls half the company's talent's Twitter feeds for non-stop shilling. I won't feel bad for Bob Ryder, who has a history of sucking up to corporate interests and abusing those below him. I won't feel bad for Vince Russo, who may not be involved with the company, but was certainly a reason why it's dying and whose stale ideas about wrestling creative and more importantly, his destructive opinions about the unprivileged, can go straight to the Christian Hell he's so afraid of roasting in for all eternity.

I won't feel bad for John Gaburuck, who will probably get another cushy job after this when so many of the people who work under him will be in limbo. I won't feel bad for Billy Corgan, who has fought for the rights of the ultra-rich like himself while verbally abusing transgender people who have "wronged" him. I won't feel bad for Jeremy Borash who is probably already thinking of the first TNA Reunion show that he's going to promote. I won't feel bad for Jeff Jarrett, who is already long gone and out the door and already starting the cycle over again with Global Force Wrestling, but was the one who founded this sham of a company in the first place.

And last but certainly not least, I won't feel badly for Dixie Carter. She has an all-too-effective public face of ditzy, ne'er-do-well-but-well-meaning mom who is "in over her head," but not only will she fall back on her mommy and daddy's money when this is all over, she actively had a hand in creating a toxic work environment. Under her reign, Goldilocks and other women experienced rampant sexual harassment. Male wrestlers, especially already-famous-ones who made hay in WWE, WCW, and ECW, made six figures while the women who were drawing the most viewers and interest had to take jobs at the fucking Sunglass Hut to make ends meet. Jesse Sorensen, Zema Ion, Daffney, and countless others felt the cold hand of indifference to their maladies, whether suffered on the job or not. Hell, Rosie Lottalove, the one who injured Daffney, was given all the blame, and yet did anyone in the company question why someone with so little experience was allowed to go out and rampage like that? Awesome Kong got fired because she couldn't take the white male privilege running rampant backstage. You might disagree with her actually laying hands on Bubba the fucking Love Sponge for only saying words, but pieces of shit like him are allowed to run their mouths at workplaces everywhere with impunity, no matter how many oppressed parties feel the brunt of it.

Those people do not deserve a single cent more to their names via a company like this, and the shame part is their incompetence has fucked so many other people who don't deserve getting tossed on the street. Such is anything in life. Some people deserve to get the screws, but when they do, they take down so many others with them, ones whose only role in the whole fiasco is that they just wanted to make a livelihood. That's what makes this whole situation shitty. Even if TNA needs to die, too many people are going to get fucked in the process. Remember that.