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Pondering with Plumtree - International Love: How Does TNA Embrace This Unique Fandom?

Pondering with Plumtree is a column on the popular blog, TNAsylum, that is written by yours truly. The blog is focused towards being a fan site for TNA Wrestling fans where they can get news, rumors, opinions, and any and everything else, TNA Wrestling. Known as "The Haven for TNA Wrestling Fans", I'm hoping to bring some of my thoughts to an already impressive roster of columnist for as long as the site will have me. You can read the latest column here, or in the text below.



The dynamic of TNA Wrestling's fan base is a peculiar and uncharted one. It's actually rather fitting for a company that continues to plow it's own path in the wrestling industry to have (or suffer?) from a unique fan base as well. Fresh off a UK tour that truly was amazing in every way possible, from television to the feedback of those in attendance, the divide between domestic fan interest and that of the rest of the world's in regards to TNA is more apparent than ever.

Once upon a time, the wrestling world was shocked, awed, and amazed by the compelling nature of Bret Hart's fandom when he broke conventional wrestling standards by being jeered within the U.S., and then overwhelmingly welcomed as the top babyface outside of the 50 states.

While TNA's fandom isn't as grand or extreme, the fandom outlier of it's domestic interest and reputation paling in comparison to the international audience is overly fascinating. Especially, when you throw in the wrinkle that TNA is indeed based out of Nashville, Tennessee.

Obviously, there could be an assortment of reasoning for this cause:

1. American Fans are Fickle - I can't say this is entirely not true. Though, I could be very inclined to say as an entire-wrestling fan base, and as a culture, we very much could be.

2. American Fans are Jaded - Another viewpoint which can't be completely dismissed. Could be true, while a case can be made that we aren't. Yet, wrestling fans have quickly become the group which looks at it's entertainment medium of choice with a "glass half-empty" approach.

3. American Fans are Spoiled - Another possibility. We do have plenty of options available and are exposed to them quite frequently.

4. International Fans are just better than American Fans - The UK fans were great. And the energy they gave really reflected on the show's quality, and could also be seen and felt from many of the talent through the screen. The shows just had a different gear and special feel.

I felt the crowds on the UK tour felt a like the UK issuing a big challenge to the U.S. market to step their game up. However, it seems stateside, we're more into "hijacking" and looking to be the show lately, rather than being part of the show.

or...

5. All or None of the above - Again, who knows why TNA has this peculiar dynamic within it's fanbase? There really isn't a clear cut cause.

TNA diehards are well aware of the excellence the company has accomplished overseas which falls on deaf ears to detractors. Over there, it's defeating the WWE regularly in the ratings and loud "TNA-TNA-TNA" chants. Here in the states it's a questionable TV future and constant (and what is now oddly, culturally) outright mockery of the company.

Even the casual fans have noticed. Like my wife, who blatantly asked when this week's IMPACT hit the air from Orlando, "Why are the shows in America so much smaller...and darker?!"

"Ummmmmmm, I have no idea", I responded. And that's a truthful answer. After all, it is the same product everywhere, right?

Yet, regardless of how unique, compelling, intriguing, or baffling this situation is, there is a silver lining. And it seems the company has begun harvesting this idea over the past couple of months. From a British World Champion, flying luchadores, a partnership with Wrestle 1 and TV content which require caption translations, the company seems to be diversifying the product among other changes in this "real new era".

The big kicker of course being the recent relationship with Wrestle-1. I'm not familiar with the company other than the few videos posted by JSO here at TNAsylum, who by the way, deserves major kudos for providing us with them. The promotion really seems to be offering something unique. A bit of the Japanese strong-style and serious-nature mixed with some American entertainment and goofiness. The two companies, both attempting to make a dent in their initial domestic markets, could really use each other to further along their brands globally.

Which further got me thin...errrrr pondering on just how far TNA could invest behind a global theme or vision? I'm not sure of the funds TNA currently has to allocate to other projects (and I truly believe no one else outside of TNA does either), but projects such as Ring Ka King and British Boot Camp seemed to have been worthwhile investments.

Heck, what if TNA took an old territorial concept and modernized it using the entire globe? Possibly jump start another Indian promotion or even affiliate themselves with an independent British promotion, thus rotating wrestlers through a highly developed network for the advantage of all. It could help solve many of the issues regarding training wrestlers, getting them the necessary experience, and of course, being able to keep all the rosters fresh.

C'mon...wouldn't that make the TNA Champion a big deal, just like it was for a traveling Ric Flair in the old NWA?

I know, I dream big. We all do. As expenses and travel logistics are the tip of the iceberg in this crazy idea.

But with every other company being just a minor dent in the massive armor surrounding the WWE empire, why not take the business back to it's roots, and use it to the advantage of everyone else not currently owned by Vince McMahon?

While TNA's overwhelming international love is unique, that doesn't equate to being an entirely bad thing. In fact, there is PLENTY of potential in this unique situation. Really, it falls in line with just another off-the-beaten-path option for a company with a history of doing non-traditional things to get where it is today.

Harnessing it, embracing it, and using it to their advantage is the true challenge.

As Tony Montana would probably advise, TNA, the world is yours!


Random Rhetoric

Who else plays "find the regular" as soon as IMPACT from Universal Studios hits the air following a few weeks on the road?

Don't you just love the elderly woman who proudly wears her Magnus t-shirt and holds up her Magnus sign whenever they are there?

And do you ever wonder what happened to the energy the IMPACT Zone used to have during the earlier years?

For example, remember the Bentley bounce?

Did anyone else feel like they were sitting in a classroom or a professional seminar with MVP re-iterating the "MVP" policy?

Wasn't it oddly nice to hear Magnus mention Jim Mitchell?

Isn't Jeremy Borash the best when it comes to facial expressions and making things feel important?

How nasty was Gail Kim's opening boot to Brittany's face?

And wasn't the Lei'D Tapa/Gail Kim confrontation pretty cool?

How much fun was Tigre Uno/Senada vs. the BroMans?

Anyone else really enthralled with the whole Samuel Shaw character?

After all, isn't it weird that despite the fitting music, the catchy creepy bastard chants, and the now established finisher, the guy barely gets any offense in his matches?

Doesn't EC3 have a special quality and innate ability to control a crowd that very few wrestlers, let alone speakers, have?

As much as I find Spud entertaining, wasn't that whole deal a bit goofy and cheesy? Like, too cheesy?

I won't lie. I watched IMPACT on DVR and fast forwarded right through the whole Velvet Sky/Angelina ordeal. Did you also feel like this segment dragged and went on wayyyyyyyyyyyy too long?

The wife stated as soon as Sky and Love hugged, "Ohhhhhhhhhhh! What if Chris Sabin brought Angelina back and they're now "together"?!" After all, the company is attempting to grow it's female audience, right? Job well done, I guess?

And finally...

Heel, Face, Tweener, singles, tag-team, bad or good gimmick - it's been nine years. Is it time to start thinking about Bully Ray as a TNA Hall of Famer, yet?

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