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Dome Pondering Export - "Making An Old Art Form, New in TNA"

Dome Pondering once again takes it's thoughts and words on the road (or cyber road, I guess...) by being posted by another site. Much like the first DP Export, this one was also about pro wrestling on the widely read and TNA Wrestling-focused blog, TNAsylum. The post discusses the lost art of the manager in pro wrestler, and how TNA Wrestling can revive that art for it's benefit as it takes big steps in 2013.

You can read the column here on TNAsylum, or the entire text below:

With the move to taking Impact on the road, it's practically impossible and inevitable to review the course TNA has taken to this point. From using traditional tactics, to the newer concepts in wrestling, the company has done a nice job of really paving it's own path in history by being traditional and innovative at the same time. From it's focus on Tag Team wrestling when the competitor all but declared it dead to it's ability to really stamp a certain style of wrestling now known industry-wide as the X-Division. From their focus on cage matches (Lockdown), and attempts at other traditional classics such as scaffolding matches (Elevation X) to the awesome creation that is Ultimate X. From the historical concept of the TV title, to the once no-limits X-Division title. And of course, from the once-traditional four sided ring, to six sides. All of these examples, TNA has managed to offer a bit of old-school art with a new and welcoming change for the wrestling fan.

However, much like the rest of the wrestling industry, TNA at one time seemed like it really had a great chance of resurrecting a rapidly dying art of the pro wrestling industry, but has since given up on it like the rest of the industry has. The art I'm referring to is that of the pro wrestling manager.

In today's wrestling climate, the talent, are now expected to possess the ability to express themselves clearly and thoroughly on the mic. We are no longer in the days of Ultimate Warrior jibberish (although at times Scott Steiner made it a comedic art form, and Chavo Guerrero makes it simply eye-squinching TV). Like the tough baseball scout only looking for five-tool talent, we too now demand the entire package, and we hold all of the categories against a prospect in our scouting and reviews. Personally, the "The Kick-out" portion of "Gut Check" is a favorite part of mine. I want my wrestler to be able to connect with me. I want my wrestlers to have flexibility in what he offers. Just like that strict baseball scout, we don't care if you can hit the corners and have good make up, can you throw 90-plus - NOW? No? Well, let's find someone who can.

It's very interesting at how demanding the pro wrestling landscape has become because of less options (territories/quality independent promotions) and less national companies around. All in the face of an enormous boom in National TV exposure. Very odd. And TV, is the biggest drive in it all. You have to be ready to go.

In an industry where many do not peak at their craft until the early-to-mid-thirties, the expectations are insurmountable, and in some ways unrealistic.

The NFL no longer drafts quarterbacks and sit them on the benches to develop as it's now a sink-or-swim industry. And wrestling has become the same way when it comes to prospect wrestlers. The other qualities besides wrestling ability must be up-to-par.

The promo and character part of pro wrestling is the absolute hardest part of wrestling. How many of us can recall guys who are able to tear it up in the ring, yet had zero ability to connect on the mic?

Unfortunately, that part of the pro wrestler's development is always last. And to be honest, it seems like it always takes a few years for some to find their stride. As a longtime TNA fan since night one in 2002, most of you know this firsthand. For those that began following later on, I urge you to check out some of the AJ Styles promos from Nashville. He was the epitome of that ditzy girl we all knew. Don't. Say. Anything. For AJ, we just wanted him to wrestle. There was a Iot of developing times for many of the TNA originals. Just look at the years of rough edges we sat through in finally getting to the awesomeness that is now 1/2 of Bad Influence in Frankie Kazarian. Kaz's wrestling ability was never the question, it was his ability to connect that was.

Yes, there is now Ohio Valley Wrestling to teach and to help with such things, but even then there are those that develop late, or never at all.

This is where that art form - that seems so ancient - comes to fruition. In the past we've seen many of these types receive managers who did the bidding for them, and allowed them to do what they did best at that time, wrestle. Good managers were able to get their guy heat or even the cheers needed to begin their development and connection. It allowed these guys the ability to ease into the role of handling a microphone in front of "that red light" as Jeff Jarrett calls it in his DVD.

Often gone unnoticed is the really talented group of managers TNA has had in their 10 year history. Mortimer Plumtree (obviously a favorite of mine who really helped AJ along), Father James Mitchell (Can someone please explain why this man is out of wrestling?), Jimmy Hart in his short stint (albeit for the awful Nasty Boys), Shane Douglas, Konnan (LAX or versions of it, have never been the same since he left) and yes, even Vince Russo (as leader of Sports Entertainment Xtreme).

Many have benefited from them including AJ Styles, Malice, Abyss, The Naturals, Elix Skipper, The New Church, and many more.

However, besides being a mouthpiece, and an overall talent enhancement, managers can provide and offer other benefits to the overall TNA product:

Characters - Managers are usually some of the largest characters in pro wrestling. Having another dynamic character can give TNA more options to work with. Too many is a good problem to have (Too little and you get the WWE outside of Wrestlemania season). It seems we are now in the never-ending era of having non-wrestling characters being only political figures. Either they are general mangers, Commissioners, Chairmans, or somehow related to the former in some fashion. The authority vs. employee concept needs a break. Managers can offer such a break creatively.

Present Factions/Stables Differently - If the authority vs. Employee concept hasn't been played out, how about the invading and threatening stable concept? I'm not taking a shot at Ace's and Eights in any way, as I do find the storyline interesting, however, having wrestlers tied to one manager can offer up many new options for television. Whose to say they even have to all be on the same page? Maybe having a group of wrestlers that can sort of be an MMA-style camp of simply connected participants because of their trust in that manager? Maybe there can be managers feuding over the services of an accomplished wrestler? I always remember the vignettes TNA had when Bobby Roode broke away from Team Canada and they built him up as having several managers attempt to court him. Something as little as that can make a guy seem really important. Why not a guy like Morgan? Just throwing out ideas.

More of a Presence - Finally, having a manager accompany his guy(s) to the ring and staying ringside for that match gives a greater presence and dynamic to the match. For TV, and especially live. Overall, it adds to the wrestler's character. How many guys in the X-Division could have used a manager to give their connection some level of depth over the past five years? (see:Tony Nese) Sometimes, simply being "just an X-Division" wrestler isn't enough.

There are also others who can use a manager in TNA. Chavo and Hernandez immediately come to mind? Gunner, possibly. Maybe, Matt Morgan?

Who is manager material in TNA? Taz would have been great, but that boat has sailed as a member of Ace's and Eights. James Mitchell? Kurt Angle after he retires? Don West? Maybe even a guy like Mike Tenay? The Professor, heading up a group of thoroughbred, blue-chippers? It would be sweet to see Tenay get decked a couple of times off of an apron.

Either way, it's all about continued options. And most importantly, I'd hate to see TNA pass on an opportunity to keep the next AJ Styles or Frankie Kazarian.

The art of the manager, although endangered and economically burdening for a company, is an old one that can present creative and developmental benefits for a wrestling company. TNA, contrary to popular opinion, has done an absolutely stellar job of keeping old concepts that work and blending them with new ones that will. With additional programming on the way and many new wrestlers hitting the TNA roster via this new concept of "Gut Check", TNA has the opportunity to hide their flaws by blending it with an old concept - the pro wrestling manager.

Sometimes old, can be new again.

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