Have you detected a change in the creative philosophy since the appointment of Bruce Pritchard as TNA’s head of creative?
In October 2011, it was announced that Vince Russo had been replaced by Bruce Pritchard as head of TNA creative. Russo, who eventually left the company entirely in February, has long been known for his controversial “crash TV” style of booking – something that was strongly embraced by Vince McMahon during the painfully fledgling days of the WWE in the early nineties, thus spawning the infamous WWE Attitude Era. Years later, when Russo decided to jump ship to WCW, the style not only crashed ‘n burned, but it has been labeled by many as one of the key elements in the death of WCW, as well as the stagnant growth in TNA, thus leading many to wonder how much of a creative genius Vince Russo really was.
Once Pritchard replaced him, many observers expected an immediate change in the atmosphere and creative direction of TNA programming. While no one expected to change overnight, it was well over six months after Pritchard and taken his position and literally nothing had changed.
Others pointed to the stability of Bobby Roode’s title reign as a sign that the signature Russo rapid-fire title changes direction had come to an end, and that the world title match ups are getting more of a traditional buildup than under the Russo regime.
But ever since TNA made the decision to broadcast Impact Wrestling earlier and live on Thursday nights, there has not only been a noticeable change in the creative product, but in the morale of the company and the response from the fans. The new approach lives by its motto – “wrestling matters”. Even during WWE Raw broadcasts, TNA wrestling’s marketing team has placed promotional commercials that subtly hint to its viewers and demographic that you are currently watching an inconsistent circus, and that by choosing Impact Wrestling, you are getting a product that is changing the way you see the industry, bringing traditional emphasis into a modern age, and getting as close as possible to taking a pre-determined show and turning it into a realistic sport.
I was once a fan of what Vince Russo brought to the WWE table. There was even a time where I thought he was the only reason the WWE survived the attack from Eric Bischoff’s WCW. But what I didn’t bother to ask was, who else was at the table? Because on his own, Vince Russo has proven that he is a failure when it comes to creatively writing for pro wrestling. It shames me to think that he is even a fan and it baffles me that he ever was.
I go on the records in saying that TNA Wrestling is worth watching, and not only is a suitable alternative to the WWE product, but I dare to say it is BETTER than the WWE product. WWE’s product has been so bad since Wrestlemania, I’m starting to think they may have re-hired Russo.
Keith Jenkins has covered the pro wrestling industry for over two decades, and currently does promotional work for Sea Cliff Real Estate in New York City.