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Pondering with Plumtree - An Honorable Partnership?

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.


With word set to comedown about the location of the Slammiversary pay-per-view, it's that time of the year where it becomes VERY easy to fall deep into nostalgia about TNA's existence and the road to it's current state. Whether it was good or bad, many seem to have forgotten how truly terrible the time following WCW's purchase by WWE was. Quite frankly, the way we romanticize and even embellish the Attitude Era, I feel the years following it did just as much to hurt the pro wrestling "boom" (maybe even more) with no competition present, and a very lack luster WWE product.

2001-2002 was dreadful.

Regardless, it's been thirteen years, and maybe I'm alone on this, but to see so many options in the wrestling marketplace today, TNA and Ring of Honor deserve plenty of credit when we look back on this time in wrestling history many, many, many years from now. You know, the real version of the story. Not the kind that has the WWE spin on it, ala everything else.

Nonetheless, for two companies that inexplicably dislike one another, and two fans bases that have, or are attempting to create some type of rivalry between the two sides, there is a growing understanding - atleast in my sick brain - that ROH and TNA need one another more than they realize, or even care to admit.

As they are bound by their birth in wrestling lore, they are inexplicably bound by much more than shared history of talent, their continued drive for any type of mainstream wrestling relevance, and their all-out warfare for the rights to sadly call themselves "number two." Second place never had such relevance.

Yes, TNA and ROH need each other in the worst way. Forget New Japan Pro Wrestling. Forget Triple A. Forget Wrestle-1 (I'm sure you've already did). TNA and ROH are the perfect match for one another despite their gross and stubborn "rivalry".

OK, dude - Plumtree you've lost it.

Stay with me here...

Past Partnerships

ROH has currently benefited greatly from it's partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling. The hardcore wrestling fan who enjoys ROH is typically the same fan who enjoys NJPW, and the dual shows usually allows such a fan to either; 1. see their favorite Japanese wrestling in person here in the States, or 2. See their favorite Japanese wrestler on an English broadcast within the American wrestling culture. For some, just having English announcers makes the difference.

I very much enjoy the NJPW product, and the two shows between ROH and NJPW are always well attended (usually sold out) and always a good a show. However, after every show, I can't help but walk away thinking that NJPW's wrestlers came away looking like stars moreso than the ROH guys.

Nothing against the guys in ROH who are supremely talented, but ROH is usually along for the ride in this partnership much like TNA usually is (more on that in a bit). I'm sure they'll take the gate revenue and the added interest, but the company doesn't truly gain much in the long run, of course until the next set of dual shows.

And then there is TNA. TNA is very much the cute girl who everyone asks to go to the dance just to use them for all the things they can provide (e.g. pictures, entrance, ride to the dance, etc...), then of course ditches them when they see fit. At least that's what it feels like.

TNA partnerships - all of them - feel as if TNA received the short end, or at the very least, have been very confusing (see partnership with Wrestle-1). I have no idea what else TNA might have received in return from those partnerships in the past that we aren't aware of, but it just seems that way to this fan. TNA is always sending talent somewhere else for another show, and gets nothing for their generosity. As a fan it's frustrating.

Second is the New Number One

"Who is the real number two in pro wrestling?" It's becoming the new buzz debate among wrestling fans, especially among those who look too far into meaningless things in the behind-the-scenes aspect of pro wrestling.

My opinion: Does it even matter? Seriously. Who cares?! Both aren't number one, and are so far away from the WWE that it isn't even relevant to render a decision.

What is indeed important is that both have a distinct share in the wrestling marketplace. Though it varies on interest, fanbase, and overall image, both TNA and ROH have managed to grab a chunk of the wrestling pie and have made it their own. Both have television deals and for the most part, are staying afloat around the massive WWE empire.

Second Place Dream Team

So while TNA and ROH are side-swiping one another off the track for a very distant second place, why not work together? I know, it's still hard to imagine, right? However, there are some major benefits for both involved.

For ROH, it's the mere recognition they aren't getting from partnerships with NJPW. A partnership with TNA not only will get them into households overseas and will also help increase some of their awareness in the industry, but it will allow their biggest and brightest stars to get on a platform that is more in line with their targeted audience - North America. Heck, maybe even get some kids and female eyes on the product.

I'm not taking a shot at ROH. I've been to ROH shows...lots of dudes, yo. Lots. Of. Dudes.

As for TNA, let's be quite frank, we hear so often about "TNA's biggest problem", and much of those opinions are ironically TNA's biggest problem - image. TNA doesn't have the best of reputations among wrestling fans (for various reasons - deserved and undeserved), and a partnership with ROH could help lend some healing to that image. Especially among the hardcore fanbase which seems to have greatly influenced the reputation of the company.

Also, for two companies with national television deals in the same national market who could be deemed as competitors, partnering would be unprecedented and really, quite awesome. I think both ROH TV and Impact Wrestling would benefit greatly if they were building to one show (more on that in a bit).

Another aspect to look at is indeed the introduction of WWE's NXT. Triple H and the WWE are very, very, very smart in their introduction and use of NXT. It fills the hardcore void the main product can't provide, and thus the WWE is able to stronghold an area they never were able to in the past. We all know the IWC's obsession with "new" promotions. We buy in really quickly because of the "hope" it provides. Right now, NXT is that flavor of the month, especially as they bring in an all-star cast of top talent from other "smaller" promotions.

NXT's arrival (no pun intended) certainly has and will affect TNA and ROH in the future. NXT is simply the WWE dropping Mario Kart-like banana peels in this race as they create a brand that offers an alternative interest that can take away eyeballs from competitors...or potential threats. Again, who cares about number two? The distance between the pack and the WWE is more important - for fans, and for the industry.

All the more reason for this partnership to happen.

Proposed First Show

So, what exactly will this partnership be?

It's silly to think ROH and TNA would jump completely into such a deal of a fluid partnership with talent exchanges and such. And I wouldn't blame either one of them for hesitating or balking at a deal like that. However, what I would propose is an annual one night collaborated show. Make it a special deal and hold it in the same city as Wrestlemania every year the way ROH does with the Super Card of Honor.

Never going to work, Plumtree! Companies want to protect their stars.

True. But it doesn't have to be TNA vs. ROH. The card can have a mix of built up matches from prior programming of both shows. Each company gets four exclusive matches. I'm pretty sure there would be some pride on the line as well to be the company who stole the show that night.

It would be nice also to have some cool nostalgic backstage segments. Maybe have Eric Young run into Jay Lethal backstage. Or what kind of TV would AJ Styles walking by Dixie Carter backstage be?! I don't know...some limited and unique interaction would be entertaining, intriguing, and special.

As for the main event, it could be an inter-promotional bout, but in a creative way to protect both companies. Two heels from both ROH and TNA versus two baby faces with similar representation. For example purposes only - say EC3 and Adam Cole vs. Jay Briscoe and Kurt Angle. The cross promotion for this match leading up to the event would again be must-see because of it's rarity.

Obviously, there would be tons of logistics, legalities, and of course, egos to be stroked and eased, but I truly believe such a card would have a chance to not only elevate both companies, but give heightened purpose to their products during Wrestlemania weekend. Heck, maybe even add pressure to the WWE. With competition, fans always - always - win.

All in all, no matter how much ROH ignores TNA (simply read AJ Styles' bio on the ROH Website), or TNA continues to attempt to break new ground without any help, both companies have been, and continue to run parallel lives. It just feels like an inevitable partnership at some point is best. A chance to make history. A chance to solidify themselves further. A chance to strengthen their futures.

Again, just my opinion. Call me crazy...but I think an honorable partnership between TNA and ROH just might work for all involved.


Random Rhetoric

Isn't it around that time for TNA to have a low morale story?

And even if it's true, isn't this the kind of thing that makes it hard to be a fan of the company?

You ever wonder who these "sources" are for some of these dirtsheets?

Anyone else still holding out hope for a secondary show - possibly Xplosion in the United States?

Didn't the Taz departure come out of left field?

Yet, how awesome and focused was the commentary job done by Josh Matthews this past week?

Haven't TNA done a nice job in increasing the prestige of all of their titles, except the X-Division Title?

And at this point, isn't the X-Division "exclusivity" chatter passe, especially when Lucha Underground is out X-Division-ing TNA's X-Division?

Was that last one confusing?

And finally...

Isn't it cheap when anyone uses a ladder in an Ultimate X match? Especially, when they win the match using the ladder? 

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