Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gut Checking TNA

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

On Monday, TNA announced a new online voting system to determine future contenders for the Gut Check segment. As with most ideas TNA has had over their 10-year existence this one takes a good concept and botches it in the execution.

The participants for Gut Check consideration are made up of wrestlers and at least one announcer who have previously taken part in a local Gut Check tryout TNA holds before house shows. On the Gut Check Challenge website, voting is broken down over 16 brackets. This is where my biggest complaint comes into play.

There are roughly 20 names to vote for in each bracket. With the exception of Lince Dorado, all of the names are the wrestlers real names and not their wrestling gimmick names. When I first looked at the list, I didn’t immediately recognize anyone. It wasn’t until reading message boards and other wrestling blogs that pointed out who certain wrestlers were that I realized I am familiar with about 15-20 of the participants. I can understand TNA not having guys use their gimmick names on TV, (although I don’t think any of the televised Gut Check competitors so far have used any name other than the one they’re “famous” for using.) but when you want fans to vote don’t you think you’d want fans to know the person from whom they’re voting. Would TNA set up a Best TNA Wrestler contest and list the nominees as Terry Bollea, Steve Borden, Allen Jones, Daniel Covell and James Cox?

In each bracket, each name is a link to a mini-profile of the wrestler complete with a video of a match. So technically if a fan was curious enough they could spend the day clicking on names on familiarizing themselves with each contestant. The downside is there are nearly 300 names to choose from. Who is going to click on 300 names?  Perhaps it would have been better to only unveil one or two brackets a week to avoid fan burnout. Maybe TNA is counting on the wrestlers to promote this online vote to their fans and figure the fans will simply vote for their favorite wrestler without looking at the other nominees so overloading them with choices isn’t a big deal.

Another point of contention is who is on the list and who isn’t. I know of at least one wrestler who went through a local Gut Check seminar that isn’t on the list. There could be a valid reason he was omitted. I don’t know the reason nor do I know if there are other wrestlers who should be on the list but have been left off for some reason. In addition there’s at least one name on the list, Chase Stevens, who is a former TNA wrestler. Not only is he a former TNA wrestler, he’s a former TNA Tag Team Champion. Then again, Christian York wrestled for TNA in their early days and took part in a televised Gut Check so the precedent has been set. Gut Check is more like The Voice than American Idol. What’s more confusing is there’s one talent, Matt Polinsky, who is a NXT wrestler. Apparently, the bio video mentioned he was a member of the NXT roster. (ED. NOTE. Since typing this, Matt Polinsky’s name has been removed from the list of names. Guess once people online pointed it out someone at TNA decided the name shouldn’t be there.)  How does something like one of your competitors being signed to another company slip through the cracks?

I like the Gut Check concept. I like how TNA is giving fans the opportunity to vote for who they want to see compete as there is a lot of great independent talent out there who deserve to be seen on a bigger stage. I just feel TNA has once again dropped the ball in how they handle new concepts.

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