January 28, 2008
I was trying to avoid yet another article about TNA, but I’ve been swamped with email questions about last weeks episode of Impact, in particularly the debut of “Stone Cold” Shark Boy. The email that best sums up everyone’s questions on the subject was the following one:
“After a month or so of not watching TNA I come across it tonight. Only to see who I'm sure everyone is calling Shark Boy Steve Austin I suppose, make his debut? With Black Machismo and now Shark Cold. Is there something to this? I mean I don't really consider myself a "smart" or "smark" or whatever term the net is using right now. I'm just completely mind boggled really with this angle. I see no point to it besides making TNA seem like some slapstick comedy hour. I'm hoping you address this on your next post. I am just at a loss here.”
Let me start by saying I believe someone is very lost here but it is not the person who sent me this email. I believe the person (or persons) who are lost here is or are the people who book/write TNA Impact. For the most part imitations, despite the cheap pop they initially garner, just make the imitator come off second rate. Famous people never imitate average people average people imitate celebrities, so in my opinion Jay Lethal and Shark Boy come off like mark Indy workers imitating real stars, which really shouldn’t be the booking goal of the company they work for.
This concept actually came up in ECW way back when. On house shows some of the guys would do WWF gimmick moves for the cheap pop it would garner. I recall one house show when in a tag match Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman worked in a double Scotty 2 Hotty Worm spot to a huge pop from the crowd. Paul Heyman was livid and told the guys never to do stuff like that again, because it made us look second rate and inferior to the WWF. I agreed and figured if the biggest pop you could get was by imitating someone else, you didn’t really have much value as a performer.
For a company that claims to be an alternative to WWE, having guys on their show impersonate guys from WWE seems even crazier. I will grant you that the impersonations are quite good and most people watching the show likely enjoyed them, but I don’t see where it can go from here. I seriously doubt there are plans to push Shark Cold into a top PPV spot program, and even if there are, the Stone Cold imitation will get old very quickly. Black Machismo has lasted longer, primarily because Jay Lethal is a damn talented kid whose abilities warrant a PPV spot on his own, but Shark Boy is a dead end comedy gimmick that will never draw money, and seeing him do a Thesz press and stomp a guy in the corner will not carry a match on PPV.
In the end Shark Cold will likely not amount to anything more than a short term comedy pop on 2 or 3 Impact shows and then run it’s course and be dropped. All in all it will end up being just a big waste of valuable airtime. Impact is TNA’s primary vehicle for selling PPVs and establishing stars and the company’s image. Time should not be wasted playing ribs, or doing inside jokes just to entertain the boys. TNA needs to spend every second of their Impact air time establishing their own image and getting their top guy and PPV angles over, to generate revenue. Only then will TNA and Impact be a success.