Welcome to part three of this multi-part series looking at TNA's progress and status over their ten year existence. I hope you're enjoying the read. Feel free to comment here, and on Twitter!
Partnerships are funny things. They do wonders at times, but the wrong one or the right one handled in a wrong way can stunt the growth of a company. In this installment, we look at the “business synergy” of Bellator MMA and TNA, and why I feel it holds back the current TNA product.
Crossing the Line, just a bit too far…
Bellator MMA has become Viacom’s (the owner of Spike TV) latest acquisition. Spike, Viacom, and Bellator MMA have all come together, along with TNA, to form a sense of “business synergy” between the brands in order to give cross-promotion to both products.
I’m all for business synergy and having working relationships in order to help promote shows on the host network. WWE does it for various shows that air on the USA Network where Raw is aired weekly. Herein lies the difference: WWE does it with video packages, interviews, and graphics. TNA is featuring two of the Bellator fighters in their main event storyline. This is a poor business decision in this writer’s opinion.
There is no doubt in my mind that Rampage Jackson is legendary in MMA. He is a household name from his UFC days. He’s one tough hombre that could kick my ass, to be so blunt. But Rampage lacks the pro wrestling skill set right now to add anything to TNA’s product. He looks lost and when he speaks he feels very much like he’s not sure of himself or what his lines are.
Then there’s Tito Ortiz. Another legendary MMA figure that Bellator has picked up, Ortiz made his name in UFC among other places. Tito Ortiz came in as the “#August1Warning” figure that received mostly internet hype heading into that show. Wrestling fans hoped for a big name like Dave Bautista or Bill Goldberg who could immediately contribute in a wrestling environment. Instead they got Ortiz, so this was a major letdown and was greeted by silence and boos in Texas that night he debuted.
He’s the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” and without a doubt could kick my ass in a fight too. Tito quickly turned out to be on the side of Aces and Eights after ambushing Rampage with a hammer a couple weeks ago. Having this turn happen was seen by some to be an effort to help sell his MMA fight with Rampage.
His debut promo was horrible. His in-ring actions of selling, carrying himself in a scrum, and even just his basic posture while cutting a promo scream inexperience inside a wrestling ring. Again, while he is great at MMA, he lacks the pro wrestling skill set that could add to TNA’s product.
Add to this the fact that in November, Ortiz and Jackson will fight in an MMA bout. This is a real fight, not the scripted battles of professional wrestling. Looking at the big picture, this business decision has to be one of the most awkward for both Bellator and TNA. TNA receives two men who cannot positively contribute to the product with the skill set needed to be effective in a professional wrestling angle, leaving wrestling fans with a bad taste in their mouths. Bellator receives the black eye of having their MMA bouts viewed as scripted by MMA die-hards as a result of these two men being utilized in TNA’s main event story.
TNA could have gladly consented to running video packages. They could have scheduled and conducted a live interview with each fighter unrelated to any story TNA has going to help create the sense of “business synergy” between the brands. But they’ve chosen to go a whole other route that just isn’t working.
Fortunately for TNA, they aren’t footing the full bill in terms of salary to these men, as reports say that Viacom and Bellator are helping to share the financial load. But none the less, to feature Rampage and Tito in a main event wrestling storyline like this renders this business decision as a lose-lose for both parties.
In the next installment, we’ll take a look at the leadership end of TNA. Though a privately held company Dixie Carter and TNA management have done public things that deserve some scrutiny. Those business decisions are also a part of the delayed development of this company, in this fan’s opinion.