TNA: Can An Investor Save The Company?

TNA in financial troubleI don’t care what the “company line” may be from Dixie Carter, but TNA is in trouble. BIG time.

Summit Strategic InvestmentsThe rumors are ongoing that TNA is looking at selling a minority interest in their company in order to finance television tapings and continue being an entity. Their buy-out potential is being decided by a company called Summit Strategic Investments. They’re a multi-million dollar investment company who are known to purchase companies in financial Harris Brotherstrouble and turn them around into successful companies. They are most famous for turning around the fortunes of Segway and Fisker Automotive, so the hope is that they would be a company with a vision that could turn TNA around. Yes, the Harris Brothers (former wrestlers Ron & Don) work for a “production arm” of the company, but I would like to think that they simply wouldn’t be considering this investment only because of those two employees.

Dixie cryingMy issue is that Dixie Carter doesn’t want to give up majority ownership of the company, which I think is a massive mistake. The problem with TNA right now is the fact that it’s ‘TNA’. If you’re not familiar with the product, you hear “TNA” and automatically think old-school 90’s Attitude Era “T & A”. That’s NOT the type of reaction you want casual wrestling fans to get when they are exposed to your product for the first time. Personally, I was hoping that they would change their image when they moved to Destination America, but when they got there they continued to go with the TNA “brand” in spite of all the excitement and buzz about their product on the channel.

Impact reeks of failureLet’s be honest here…the name ‘TNA’ absolutely reeks of failure at this point. The years and years of “potential” have disappeared and in spite of their current best efforts, they will continue to barely survive under the current branding of the company. The lack of fans at live events and PPV’s (in addition to their low television ratings) are not going to improve under their current infrastructure. That has to be something noticed by everyone by this point, isn’t it? Do people still look at TNA right now and think that they can still grow?

TNA jokeAt the end of the day, TNA needs to completely change their company name to ‘Impact Wrestling’ or something else entirely different in order to be successful. In addition to that, they need to rebrand themselves and really try to differentiate their product from WWE. Of course, those ideas have been thrown at Dixie & Co. for years now, but nothing seems to have changed.

Lucha Underground & NXTIf they want to see what could be happening for them, all they have to do is look at the success of both Lucha Underground and NXT, in particular. These two promotions are garnering large followings because they are offering something different from WWE. Yes, I fully realize that NXT is a part of WWE but it’s not difficult to see that they are successful because they are offering a product completely different from that of the main roster. And Lucha Underground? Even if you’re not the biggest fan of the lucha style (I’m not), it’s such a different form of sports entertainment that you can’t help but be impressed at what they’re trying to do.

TNA rosterTNA has a very talented roster right now that could do a TON of unique and different things, but the majority of fans still firmly believe that TNA is a WWE-wannabe company. Even though they’ve recently tried to rebuild their roster with a number of TNA-branded talent, they’re still seen as ‘WWE Lite’ by most hardcore wrestling fans (i.e. the fan base that’s disenchanted with the WWE product). Until TNA can find a way to reinvent themselves and rebrand their product and company completely, they will not be profitable or successful, nor will they grow in any way.

Drew Galloway 3This isn’t about the talent in front of or behind the cameras right now…I’d like to stress that. You’ve got a helluva hard-working champion in Drew Galloway, who wants to be the type of world champion that Ric Flair used to be…hitting all of the independent promotions around the world that he hits with his current schedule (he’s one of the hardest working independent wrestlers on the planet), but defending the TNA championship in an effort to get the brand out there. You’ve also got performers like Matt Hardy, Bram, James Storm, and Ethan Carter III giving us all a mix of youth and veteran leadership who are working their asses off in an effort to make the company successful. I fear, though, that it’s all for naught.

The stench on TNA is simply too strong to wash off at this point. The only way that they can clean themselves is to completely rebrand and restart. I only hope that Dixie realizes this soon so that the company can be purchased by a group that might actually find a way to do just that and make this company the success it deserves to be.  Her incessant need to retain 51% of the company is only going to spell the company’s downfall…and she’ll only have herself to blame.

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The World According To ZAH

RIP Chyna– I woke up on Thursday morning to read the sad news that Chyna had passed away at the very young age of 45. As of this writing, the exact cause of death wasn’t known but police were treating it as a drug overdose. It’s a damn shame that Joanie Laurer could never escape her demons. Once she was fired by WWE, she was never able to find herself or find peace with life. She tried to sue for rights to the name “Chyna” and went by the moniker of “Chyna Doll” for awhile. One can only imagine what it’s like to be a wrestling superstar, television personality, and Playboy cover girl one day and then just another “regular person” the next looking for a “normal job”. She was never able to make that transition and it resulted in a downward spiral that saw her appear on The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew before doing five porn movies between 2009 and 2013. It had appeared that she had finally gotten her life together by becoming an English teacher in Japan. Hopefully her life will be remembered more for her incredible contributions to the wrestling industry than her life outside of the industry. Only time will tell.

Prince 3– And later in the day I got the absolutely crushing news that Prince had passed away. I mean…goddammit. Prince was legitimately one of my childhood icons. From the very first time I heard ‘Little Red Corvette’ to the thousand times I listened to the Purple Rain soundtrack to his androgynous hits ‘Raspberry Beret’ & ‘Kiss’ to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince (one of the gutsiest, biggest FUCK YOU’s ever seen in the history of the music industry), this man’s music was always a big part of my life. He was a legitimate musical genius who produced, wrote, and performed almost all of the instruments on almost all of his albums. How incredible is that? There simply aren’t enough artists like that anymore. My wife and I watched CNN and Much Music all evening so we could hear stories about the man and watch videos that took us back to our youth. We’ll probably end up watching Purple Rain tonight and listening to his music all weekend. We’ve lost some good musicians this year so far, but this one hurts. RIP, Prince.

Samoa Joe 1– I woke up this morning to the news that Samoa Joe had defeated Finn Bálor for the NXT title at an untelevised live event in Lowell, Massachusetts last night. This incredible news does two things: it gives Joe the spotlight in NXT and some potentially incredible match-ups over the coming months, and it frees-up Bálor to head to the main roster and join his Bálor Club brothers to either join AJ Styles or turn on him. It looks like WWE is finally pulling the trigger on the “invasion” of the Club, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what happens over the coming weeks.

Shane McMahon 1– You gotta wonder just how long this Shane McMahon in charge” storyline is going to last. And realistically, how long will Vince go along with putting the relatively unknown new stars in the spotlight before an immediate ratings spike doesn’t happen and he puts Big Show vs Kane back in RAW’s main event? Personally, I couldn’t be more excited to see AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Kevin Owens getting the main event spotlight. My only concern is just when will this bubble burst? I mean, it always does…doesn’t it? At some point, Vince will believe that he has “created new stars” and then push them back down the card while pushing returning stars like Randy Orton and John Cena. Enjoy it while you can…I don’t think it’s going to last very long.

Batman vs Superman - Dawn of Justice– I finally got to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice this past week. I won’t simply jump on the “haterade bandwagon”, but I can’t say that I loved this movie. In fact, I absolutely loved a lot of it…Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman, the storyline around why Superman was garnering more haters from around the world…but Jesse Eisenberg’s version of Lex Jesse-EisenbergLuthor ruined the entire movie for me. I didn’t have a problem with Doomsday (though it was a bit unnecessary and too “unrealistic”…even for this movie) or the length of the movie or the overall story and how it didn’t make a ton of sense. It was the “Jack Nicholson-esque” portrayal of the clearly insane Lex Luthor that bothered me the most. I just thought it was unnecessarily over-the-top and reminded me of the cartoonish portrayals of villains from the 90’s Batman movies. I don’t think it deserved the hate that it’s received, but I can’t say that it was a good movie…which is a shame because it had a TON of potential.

– A match recently took place in an NXT live event, but man oh man I just can’t wait until the day when it happens either at an NXT TakeOver or a WWE PPV. I mean…can you imagine watching Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura battle over the NXT championship? Now imagine Joe vs Nakamura going at it at a very high level of intensity on a live televised NXT or WWE event. I’m already drooling at the 5-star possibilities now…

Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Game of Thrones– I don’t know about you, but I’m super-excited about the Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones on Sunday. For me, it’s one of those shows that is brilliantly acted and brilliantly written. No, I don’t understand all that’s going on but that’s okay because after five seasons I understand enough of the story to enjoy what’s going on. I’m constantly surprised and shocked by the story and the elements of supernatural (in addition to the occasional case of brutal violence) consistently keep me entertained.

Roman Reigns 7– I’m really enjoying the subtle changes WWE is making to the character of Roman Reigns. He’s not a flat-out heel by any stretch, but he’s not pretending that he’s the biggest babyface in the company, either. He’s not trash talking or bad mouthing anybody…he’s being as respectful as he can while being super-confident at the same time. The crowds hate him in spite of the fact that he’s not doing anything “heel-ish”.

Cesaro 1 Cesaro is back and is a borderline main event star right now. His “James Bond-esque” gimmick is unique and original. His charisma is oozing through and his mic skills are improving. I couldn’t be any happier to see this turn of events because I’ve been a big fan of Cesaro for a long time now. He has worked his ass off inside the ring to improve and show explosiveness in his performances. The crowds are really into him and giving him some solid wins will only help make him the superstar his fans know he can be.

Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows 1 Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are officially booked in a match against the Usos on RAW this Monday. I’m intrigued as to where this is leading. I’m doing a podcast on the possibilities, but you’ve gotta wonder if WWE is seriously playing with the idea of AJ Styles turning heel (which I doubt because he’s over as a babyface and the heel announcers are all calling him out for being in cahoots with his former Bullet Club friends) or if there is another massive swerve coming out way.

Conor McGregor– What’s the deal with Conor McGregor? I get that he didn’t want to do promotion for UFC 200 because it would disturb his training schedule, but when faced with the possibility of getting removed from the fight entirely you would think he’d have changed his mind. Instead, he tweeted out a quick “retirement”. I don’t know if he’s interested in WWE or not (he began following Becky Lynch, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Shane McMahon during the week of WrestleMania 32), but it seems crazy that he would give up the biggest payday of his entire career simply to continue working out on a fight that he could be pulled from. There’s more to the story, I think, and we’ll find out the details in the days and weeks to come. But having said that, I would welcome McGregor to the world of sports entertainment with open arms. Having seen what past MMA stars like Ken Shamrock, Josh Barnett, Kazushi Sakaruba, Minoru Suzuki, and yes…Brock Lesnar…have done inside of the squared circle, I have confidence that McGregor could do quite well.

– While I’m no fan of The Miz, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see Maryse make her way back to WWE. I have no problem seeing her on a regular basis.

Maryse 4 Maryse 16 Maryse 21 Maryse 1

Green Day 1– I’ve been a fan of Green Day since the first time I heard 2,000 Light Years Away from their album, Kerplunk. Once Dookie came out, I was hooked and I continue to be a huge fan of the band to this day. In spite of those who complain that the band’s newer material has “changed”, I still hear the same power-punk rock chords that I’ve loved since first hearing them in 1993. Have they matured as a band? Absolutely. Is the material more “commercial”? A little bit, yeah…but they’ve always had commercial sounds in their music. When I hear X-Kid or Stray Heart, I’m not hearing a huge divergence from Christie Road or When I Come Around. As of late, the band had been grounded because of the personal demons succumbed to by lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. Now clean and sober, the band announced this week that they were heading back into the studio to record their 12th I, for one, couldn’t be happier.

Green Day 2In spite of all the “commercialism” that the band has profited from over the past few years (American Idiot was turned into a Broadway musical, for crying out loud), these guys are still the epitome of rock’n’roll. In a musical landscape where the definition of “rock music” is becoming more and more diluted, and bands like the Foo Fighters and Disturbed are becoming less and less popular, we need as much rock music as possible…whether it’s toned-down or not.

I’m still a fan of The Offspring’s new music. I can still rock out to the latest AC/DC track. Are they as good as they used to be? No, of course not…but they’re still trying to create a rock music sound that influences a new generation of rockers. I just hope that Green Day’s upcoming album can help me remember what that sound is supposed to be like.

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ZAH Thoughts From A Car: What Was YOUR First Wrestling Experience?

Hey gang! The newest podcast is up…and this week it’s courtesy of Canadian Bulldog’s World! As I endlessly drive around, I started thinking back to when I first became a fan of professional wrestling. How did it change over time and why is there even a slight connection with ADHD? I want to hear YOUR wrestling memories!

Want 30+ years of wrestling experience giving you a realistic take on the wrestling industry? Then this is the podcast for you!

Check it out!!

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#WomanCrushWednesday – Stacy Keibler

Today’s Woman Crush Wednesday is…

STACY KEIBLER!!

Stacy KeiblerShe is the woman with “legs for days” who started off as a dancer in WCW and ended up having her own television show (briefly) and dating international playboy George Clooney. This woman is, simply put, one of the most gorgeous women in the history of WWE.

Damn…I miss her on my television.

Stacy Keibler

New Japan’s Invasion Attack: REVIEW & ANALYSIS

ZAH Reviews & Analysis - NJPW Invasion AttackI had the pleasure of sitting back and watching New Japan‘s big Invasion Attack event from Sumo Hall on New Japan World recently. This was a big event for New Japan and a number of new storylines were introduced. I thought I’d throw up some of the thoughts I had on the tremendous show.New Japan Invasion Attack 2016 3

  • Los Ingobernables de Japan champion 2I love that there is a new IWGP champion in Tetsuya Naito. I thought his gimmick was unique and original and his Los Ingobernables de Japan faction was a great one to lead. He has worked his ass off to be the biggest heel in the company (although he was getting a LOT of cheers from the New Japan fans at Sumo Hall), so it’s great to see the gimmick (along with his tremendous in-ring skills) be rewarded. Plus, with the departures of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura added to injuries putting Haroshi Tanahashi primarily in tag team matches, it’s good that New Japan show their fans that Kazuchika Okada isn’t the only performer worthy of superstar status. This was a statement by New Japan and I think it was a great move by the company.

  • Okada vs Naito 4The match itself was fantastic. If anybody tries to make the claim that either Okada or Naito aren’t main event level talents, then all they have to do is watch this championship battle to know why they were the main event and the new faces of the company.

  • Seiya Sanada 2It was very cool to see Seiya Sanada join Los Ingobernables de Japan and make an immediate impact. This was a guy who went to North America and paid his dues. He was made to look like a cheap Great Muta knock-off in TNA and he did the independent scene for months after that. He came off looking like a genuine bad-ass and he’s now immediately thrown into a program with former champion Kazuchika Okada. You just gotta love New Japan’s way of creating new stars. Send them away for experience and bring them back as stars. WWE could really take notes here.
  • Yoshi TatsuIt was good to see Yoshi Tatsu back in action again. But really, he didn’t do anything during the match. You could tell that everybody was doing their best to protect him, so Tanahashi took the majority of the heat from the heels. He was very tentative, even when delivering what small amount of offense that he had. I never saw his pre-WWE work so I don’t even know what he’s truly capable of or if this was what he normally looked like. Whether or not he’ll ever be back to 100%, it’s hard to say right now. But he’s definitely not wrestling relaxed right now.
  • Juice RobinsonI don’t understand why Juice Robinson is the name being used by former NXT performer CJ Parker. I think the name is silly and doesn’t make any sense. I mean, can you imagine an IWGP champion named “Juice”? To me, it takes away from his talent and potential. And yeah, he’s just a “young lion” in Japan but man…if he thought getting squashed in NXT was bad, getting destroyed in New Japan while being called “Juice” can’t be much better.

  • Guerillas of Destiny 4AWESOME is the only word I can come up to describe the new brothers tag team of Tama Tonga and the former Camacho in WWE/NXT, his brother Tanga Roa. I think the new IWGP heavyweight tag team champions, the Guerillas of Destiny, have got tremendous chemistry together and I believe they can ho a long way with the company. I think very highly of Tonga and believe he can do a lot in the industry. He’s still learning (though he’s an 8-year veteran) but I think he can definitely be a singles champion in New Japan if they ever decided to run with it (i.e. Intercontinental champion, IWGP junior heavyweight champion, or even NEVER openweight champion).
  • Kushada vs Will OspreayThis was my first time watching Will Ospreay in action. I’ve heard a LOT about him, so I was very keen on seeing what he had to offer. Obviously, he had a tremendous dance partner in Kushida…but I gotta say that I was really impressed with the kid. His high-flying moves were great, but you can’t build your career on that alone. What most impressed me was his personality and how he displayed his arrogance without going full-blown heel (in fact, the Sumo Hall crowd booed Kushida and cheered Ospreay at the end of the match). As the newest member of Chaos, he’s got a tremendous future ahead of him.

Okada & Ospreay

  • Kevin Kelly & Steve CorinoI think it was really smart for New Japan to use ROH commentators Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino for the English commentary. These two not only have tremendous chemistry together, but they also know what they’re talking about. They know the performers and know their history in addition to knowing the names of the moves. They cover the “dead air” and really do a great job of making the matches interesting.
  • Michael Elgin vs Young Bucks 1I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Michael Elgin is a goddamn superstar in New Japan and has the very real potential to be a future IWGP champion. He’s the next challenger for Kenny Omega’s Intercontinental championship, and I think he’s well on his way to being “The Man” in Japan…especially after being given the rub by Tanahashi the way he has. The crowds LOVE this guy and the smaller performers on the roster really make him look super-human. It’s a win-win for Elgin because, quite frankly, I still don’t think his style or personality works well with North American audiences (at the moment, anyway).

  • Shibata vs Tenzan 2I’ve seen a lot of New Japan matches over the past year and I got say, Katsuyori Shibata is a damn BEAST. You wouldn’t think so by just looking at him, but watch his matches with Hirooki Goto or Tomohiro Ishii or even last week’s battle with Hiroyoshi Tenzan and you’ll see that this guy is the real deal. He doesn’t have a gimmick, but his ability seems to speak for itself. I also loved how they set up Shibata’s next match as he completely disrespected legend Yugi Nagata after defeating legend Tenzan. I really enjoy that the majority of New Japan’s feuds and title matches are done this way. It’s straight up and there are no questions asked…you KNOW who will be fighting who next.
  • Roppongi Vice 2I’m really not that excited about the team of Roppongi Vice winning the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championships. No offense to either Rocky Romero or Beretta, but neither of them “do much for me”. They’re adequate in-ring performers and I know that they try to show off charisma and personality, but their in-ring styles are a little boring and their double-team maneuvers look forced to me. I guess this allows Ricochet the opportunity to see what else is out there (he’s apparently NXT-bound) but other than the Young Bucks, I’m not sure what other tag teams in New Japan are truly exciting as champions. Most teams seem to be disbanding (ex: Kushida & Alex Shelley), not competing as regularly (ex: reDRagon), or are a make-shift team that won’t last (ex: Matt Sydal & Ricochet). New Japan needs some new blood in the tag team division, in both the junior division and the heavyweight division now that Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows have left the company.

  • Cody HallI’m glad to find out that Cody Hall was okay after a very scary moment. During the 6-man NEVER Trios Tag Team Championship match, action spilled outside of the ring. Nick Jackson decided to do a plancha off the top of the entranceway and landed on Hall’s head in a very awkward way. He was taken to the hospital and it was found that he suffered a major stinger, but no major broken bone or other serious injury. I don’t know if Hall truly has a future in the business, but I never like to see anybody get hurt.Cody Hall injured

At the end of the day, this was a tremendous PPV event and one worth watching. Realistically, I don’t think I’ve seen a bad New Japan event yet within the past year or more…especially when they bring in English commentators to help their international audience (you KNOW that it’s going to be a good event when they do that).

Los Ingobernables de Japan championWith Naito the new IWGP champion, there are a ton of new match-ups available for the company when it comes to main events. The new IWGP tag team championships changing hands to a new team (Guerillas of Destiny) gives New Japan the opportunity to have a ton of new tag matches, as well. In addition, the upcoming matches for the IWGP Intercontinental championship (Kenny Omega vs Michael Elgin), the NEVER Openweight championship (Shibata vs Nagata), and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship (Kushida vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger) all look to be extremely entertaining that make up yet another event worth watching.