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Pondering with Plumtree - "Total Nonstop Soul-Searching"

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.

 What's with all of these former TNA Wrestlers taking shots at the company lately?"

"And isn't this an indication that they should give the decorating plans back to the men who built the house in the first place?"

Those were two questions I posed as random rhetoric in last week's column. At the time they were in fact simply random rhetorical thoughts, but they have slowly grown into a thoughtful substantial idea. Currently in the place of transition, TNA has several questions marks - mainly financial and creative - looming as they take the next fork in the road of their growth. The biggest one is indeed the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room, or as Alex Rodriguez would oddly claim, "the pink elephant in the room". The biggest question mark moving forward is indeed the philosophy of the company. What is TNA?

I don't mean to sound spacey and throw out psychological babble, but lately, what is TNA? Who is TNA? What furthered my thought process on this were the minor "TNA-TNA-TNA" chants you heard last week on IMPACT. Ahhhhh, what a sweet sound. Such a sweet sound! Whatever happened to those being a regular thing?

Today, those chants are very few and far between. If, ever. TNA has become a brand associated with negativity (albeit it, most of it undeserved) with many wrestling fans.

The company took a chance beginning in 2009 on Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Bruce Pritchard and many others to help take a rapidly growing company to the next step. It was something they had to do. Having revisionist eyesight is unfair, but at the time, that very press conference in the lobby of Madison Square Garden - Vince's House - was a big deal. It was a HUGE deal! Of course, this was immediately followed by the move to Monday nights and the waves of talent (term used loosely for some) that followed afterwards. TNA made it's move. The move. I totally get it. Once again, it was a move they had to make and they went for it.

However, here we are, almost four years later, and in the eyes of some, TNA has fallen short of the expectations. Fallen short of the promises and statements thrown about. "We're taking TNA to the next level, brotha!" I cringed when I wrote that. And that's the honest truth because there is indeed some hollowness to that statement. The move was worth the risk, but is one that will be debated for the rest of wrestling eternity.

We can't call the era a total failure though, as it did come with a mixed bag. For every Nasty Boys appearance, there was Austin Aries. For every Bubba The Love Sponge segment, there was the rise of Bobby Roode. For every Orlando Jones awkward entrance, there was an improvement in the production. For every IMPACT that opened with a Hogan promo, there was IMPACT going on the road.

With the writing on the wall that this era is on it's last legs, looking back, it seems that TNA forgot who it was during this time. It's as if TNA became so consumed with expansion and competing, they pushed the envelope in a different direction from what it started out as. A direction they weren't meant to be. Sticking with my analogy in the quote above, TNA forced furniture in a home that clashed with the planned layout.

Since that historic January 4th, 2010 edition of IMPACT, TNA has felt like a company geared towards competing with the WWE (e.g. moving to Monday Nights). TNA operated like a company that was fixated on uniformity and "explanation" (X-Division), all with the intent of conforming to wrestling normality. TNA became a company that was so consumed with it's own growth, almost to the point of doing anything to take the next step. TNA lost it's soul in the process.

Once upon a time, TNA was the alternative to what professional wrestling had become. TNA prided itself on it's namesake, Total Nonstop Action. TNA was new. TNA was current. And most of all, TNA was innovative.

It was in TNA where the product was so excellent, people like Christian Cage came to TNA. Others came as well not to collect a pay check or use the company to get back to the WWE, but because they found something in a breath of fresh air taking place in a small studio in Orlando, Florida.

Innovative. Alternative. Different. As a TNA fan, though still an entertaining product, those are all qualities I can't, with 100% assurance, claim is part of TNA's product right now.

I'm sure if you injected many of the TNA originals with truth serum, they'd tell you the same thing. Most of the answers would probably sound like Samoa Joe's shoot promo from Turning Point 2007.

With the dawn of a new era set to take place, the time for TNA to go back to it's roots is upon us. Give us the best damn wrestling matches on the planet again. Don't be afraid to go out on the limb with characters such as Shark Boy and Curry man. Give us the X-Division, one that is on par with the World Heavyweight Championship, you know, the way it used to be. Give us hungry, talented wrestlers who want to make a name for themselves and for TNA. Give us great Tag Team Wrestling, the kind that could main event a show. Go even further into your roots and give us a true TNA signature in the King of the Mountain match (it really isn't that complicated!). Heck, I'd take another riot! Just give us the things that are part of the fabric of TNA. The things that made us all fans of this product.

You can indeed grow without selling your soul, and TNA became popular because it was innovative. It grew because it was an alternative. Not because it was competition.

In life, you don't get too many second chances.

TNA has one coming up very soon. I hope they do some soul searching before it's decision time.

Random Rhetoric

How lost in the shuffle do Storm and Gunner seem these days?

How refreshing and non-cookie cutter does a 1-on-1 X-Division match seem now?

Speaking of soul searching, isn't TJ Perkins the kind of guy TNA would indeed sign back in the day? And isn't that a good thing?

Am I the only one that feels Jay Bradley can be more than just the "Gut Check guy" in the BFG Series?

How boss was Austin Aries' promo?

Wasn't it awkward hearing Mike Tenay narrate the whole "Brooke" deal? Did he think he was the only one who got the twist and needed to explain it?

I love ODB and Gail, but isn't it time for some new matchups in this division?

Was it me, or did Wes Brisco slam his head into the wall when Aces and Eights were shown making their way to the ring before the commercial break?

And doesn't it speak volumes that my wife was actively rooting for someone - anyone! - to pin Brisco?

"Seriously, he just annoys me and feels like a waste of time" Doesn't her words sound like the thoughts of many of us?

How weird was the sudden AJ Styles transformation? Yet, wasn't it great to see AJ back in his own flesh?

Don't you hope he keeps the calf killer?

And isn't it near impossible to wrap your mind around the idea of TNA without an AJ Styles?

Anyone else see Anderson leading Aces and Eights eventually?

And finally...

After everything, doesn't AJ Styles vs. Bully Ray make a whole heckuva lot of sense for Bound For Glory?

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Pondering Picture #81

An establishment cannot uphold systemic injustice, and attempt to condemn it, simultaneously.

My prayers (and of course my thoughts...so many thoughts) are with Charlottesville, Virgina, and the many people of color who have endured through these scenes and images over the course of history.