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.
"One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain"
Bob Marley's words still ring true today, even in the world of professional wrestling. Music, just like many of the components that make up pro wrestling, is vital in the presentation and the overall aura and feel of the product. After all, music shapes our daily lives. From iPods to ITunes, from stereos to the stylized headphones of our choice, music helps dictate our moods, drives our passion, and of course, serves as entertainment.
When it comes to TNA Wrestling, it's quite obvious that music isn't the strongest part of the product. It doesn't take a column for you, the reader and a highly educated TNA fan, to be aware of this. It's an area TNA has plenty of room for improvement. And it has been getting better. Yet, it's still hit or miss. And that goes from their theme songs to production videos, from official pay-per-view songs to the depth of connection the product has with us fans. Again, lots and lots of room for improvement.
However, while it's easy to simply chalk it up by stating, "TNA needs to improve it's theme songs", which is among the laundry list of to-do's TNA has to fulfill for it to meet the lofty, dreamy, and perfect expectations we all envision for it one day, I believe the issues regarding TNA and it's overall use of music, tones, and melodies go much deeper than just having "better theme songs".
As watered down and somewhat bastardized as the legacy of the original ECW has become, there was a fundamental philosophy throughout the product to present each show like a rock concert. They would play their sets, and each of those sets came along with specific customs that controlled and invoked emotions from the audience, alongside creating an unpredictable nature. It all summed up to create an aura, an ambiance, and a feel for originality of the product, and each specific character.
In fact, the product relied heavily on music to control the audience, to condition all of us fans, and quite frankly, to make us feel differently based on the situation. TNA doesn't necessarily have to become ECW (nor should it), but the qualities that made ECW connect with it's niche, core fan base, something TNA currently has here in the United States, should be a blueprint worth looking into. And of course, improving upon.
Truly, some of the best occurrences in professional wrestling sometimes isn't the wrestling or in-ring action. There are other moments in wrestling that are incomparable and that always, ALWAYS, make us feel. Moments such as when the first tune of a wrestler's theme song hits the speakers. Whether they are interrupting another wrestler, answering a challenge, or returning from a hiatus, it's the type of moment, aided by the catchy hook in the begging and the style of music, that solidifies that moment for a fan.
That first note plays, and boom, you connect. You know who it is, and what that person will bring to the current situation playing out before you. It's high end drama at it's best.
Or how about that intense feud that has just the right balance of sound placed to the video package to explain the story between two wrestlers. Often times, a simple thing like the correct song could help present that feud in a new, enticing way. MMA companies do this often, and you can't blame them. It works.
Sometimes, a backdrop of some kick-ass music to a highlight recap is the icing on the cake to hype a pending blow off to a feud.
Maybe it's something as small as an opening entrance video package for the flagship show, or even an official song to add to the graphic displaying that night's main event (I thought TNA had something with the "Cross the line" song), or to just tease the "still to come" segment of the night.
Sometimes it could be as simple as conditioning your fans to remember certain events or moments with official event songs or sound bytes. For example, it's something minor and possibly rather silly, but I still think of Wrestlemania 17 whenever or wherever I hear Limp Bizkit's "Rollin" or "My Way". The same for Wrestlemania 24 with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Snow (Hey Oh)". Ironically, whenever I read about Chris Jericho's band Fozzy, it also elicits thoughts of Bound For Glory 2006 in Michigan.
Music can really go a long way in the presentation of any product, even as far as covering for weaknesses and various nonexistence in the product (See what Metallica's "Enter Sandman" did for The Sandman character that wasn't the best in-ring performer). Using sound to keep the product fresh, exciting, full of energy, and from excessive flat lulls isn't a bad idea. For a company that really has to stretch it's dollar and efficiently use it's resources by emphasizing it's strengths and covering weaknesses, I think it would behoove the company to make an effort to emphasize music and improve it's quality of sound in it's product.
Sometimes, it's just as simple as increasing the sound level of the live crowd to those of us watching at home to allow us to feel like we're there. Like we should be there, as if we're missing out on a fun atmosphere. Or maybe even the sound of the ring, or even the sound of the wrestler's theme music.
Again. It's about feel, about energy, and the overall connection.
This entire topic dawned on me back at Lockdown when Bobby Lashley returned. When the roaring engine sound to begin his theme filled the arena, I felt like an old Windows 95 operating system with that searching magnifying glass going around in circles during loading times. I recognized the song, but truly never connected it to Lashley.
Again, theme songs aren't TNA's strong suit. There are some really good songs and some really bad songs, with very little in between. But for the most part, only a select few of them truly connect with the fanbase or at times do not fit the personality of the wrestler, and this is very apparent during shows. After all, I think Serg does a fantastic ob adding lyrics and his voice to many of the theme songs, but there is only so many songs he can sing without it becoming too obvious.
I'm not sure if it's Dale Oliver's doing or who is responsible for the overall sound of TNA, if anyone (Wasn't Brooke Hogan originally hired to review TNA's music?) but plenty (and that is way too much) of TNA's overall sound as an entire product is generic. Which is somewhat baffling when there are so many part-time musicians on the actual payroll such as Jeff Hardy and Christy Hemme.
Again, it's mild aesthetics for a program or television show or an overall product, but it's the type of aesthetics which can turn a mere donkey into a pinata.
Lately, TNA has done a tremendous job in presenting characters. From debuting vignettes, to providing specific and exclusive entrances (e.g. Willow's black and white screen, and of course, Tigre Uno's streamers), and yes even the theme music (EC3's "trouble, trouble, trouble" ballad and Samuel Shaw's slight knockoff of Kavinsky's "Nightcall").
However, as this era of TNA wrestling continues to unfold, and new faces continue to emerge and debut, the need to connect, condition, and control the audience to these new characters and faces increases. Especially, when creating a foundation of new stars for the future. Thus my belief that TNA not only needs to just increase it's efforts and quality of sound throughout the company, but intertwine music with the product as a whole.
How they go about doing this effectively, economically and efficiently is just another notch on TNA's to-do list. Use small, indie bands? Allow wrestlers more freedom to seek their own songs? Create a special task force to tackle the issue? Who knows?
Maybe one day when Bobby Lashley's music hits as he returns for a mere cameo, I'l quickly get that rush of excitement because I'll know exactly who it is. Or one day I'll hear a song on the radio that I will immediately connect with a TNA event. Or possibly, simply, I'll be able to hum the new IMPACT theme song as I gear up in anticipation for a new episode.
Either way, as this company continues to grind through change and set it self up for greater heights, quality music and sound should be an element infused and merged into the entire TNA Wrestling product.
After all, in the words of Jimmy Hendrix "Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music."
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And doesn't it make you realize we need to complain less, and appreciate the work of these guys while we can?
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Anyone one else find Magnus' "This is your champion speaking" line to be a great one?
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As much as they get a hard time from wrestling fans, didn't the Orlando crowd get into it tonight?
Anyone else chuckle when Taz referenced Robbie E having enough time to throw on his gear?
And doesn't that drive you nuts when guys are geared up, yet claim to not be ready for action?
Speaking of Taz, did Christy Hemme respond to Taz's comment in her ear piece regarding "the tight glove"? And didn't it make the situation even more weird?
Anyone else from the TNAsylum community in the NYC area going to the Manhattan Center? Hoping to be there myself - possibly all three nights. Should be fun.
Who saw this Eric Young win coming? Anyone?
And how many of you already are tired of the Daniel Bryan comparisons?
There goes that bashing hiatus, huh?
Your opinion on the entire angle aside, doesn't EY deserve this?