Gut Check: TNA’s blatant disregard of kayfabe…

Posted: June 4, 2012 by Kick Out At 2! in Shane D
Tags: , , , , ,

I have to admit, I had a few weeks where my DVR would record TNA and I would let it sit there for a while, then realize that I needed more DVR space and just delete it without watching it.  That’s not so much a dig at TNA as just me being lazy sometimes, as I’ll do the same thing to Smackdown, just on a far rarer occasion.  However, that caused me to miss the first round of Gut Check, TNA’s newest “innovation” and, in some ways, their attempt to be Tough Enough.  On catching up with this week’s episode, though, I finally got to see what Gut Check was all about…

I’m not very impressed.

I was actually quite impressed with Joey Ryan, and truth be told, in some ways this segment could be something really cool.  It’s a way to bring in new blood and it can give a lot of people some exposure with a non-Indy wrestling crowd that they may not have gotten before.  I even kind of liked the face off segment in the ring, as it gave Ryan the ability to play off of the judges and really let his character shine.  To me, the part that really bothered me, was the segment where they went over his match.

I know that we’re in a world where kayfabe is a bit passé.  We all know it’s a work.  However, I watched Avengers and never once thought that was really Robert Downey, Jr., flying around in an Iron Man suit fighting aliens.  One imagines I’d have seen that on CNN or something if that was the case.  No, wrestling is scripted entertainment,  just like the movies, just like TV shows…the difference being that TNA wants to keep pointing out that it’s a work.  That was so evident in this segment, in my mind.  Listening to Dr. Tom and Taz talk so openly about Joey Ryan’s gimmick and addressing the look, especially as a negative, didn’t come off like, say, Michael Cole calling Zack Ryder a goof due to his gimmick.  That’s a heel announcer getting heat by making fun of a babyface.  This was basically three guys sitting around talking about how this fake wrestler’s gimmick wasn’t cool enough.  Big difference in my mind.

There were two other moments during the segment that really pulled me out of it due to how much they were pointing out that it’s all a work.  Dr. Tom talking about how Ryan was too much of a gimmick in this “reality based” atmosphere, where they were trying to accentuate the performers.  That, in and of itself, screams “we’re trying to make it more real!”  Follow that up with Taz talking about how Ryan didn’t seem scared in his match after he found out who he was “fighting” (not wrestling…no, fighting is a much more real word!).  He says something along the lines of “these guys don’t know how to be…Do I go all the way with my character or do I pull it back…”  Could you imagine if Michael Cole or Jerry Lawler talked openly about whether Randy Orton was playing into his  character enough?  No.  Not at all.

Gut Check seems like TNA’s newest strike at trying to essentially make a wrestling reality show.  I’m pretty certain that very few people want to watch that.  Even when wrestling does venture into the reality realm, a la Tough Enough, it still does it’s job to protect the business.  You never saw either the wrestlers or those trying out say or do anything that revealed all that much.  We saw them practicing moves.  We saw them get blessed down for not being very good, sure, but it was done in a way that came across very respectful to the wrestling business as a whole.  Gut Check made it seem like I was sitting in on a booking meeting, and I hated that.  TNA, in my mind, needs to focus themselves in being a good wrestling program, not a weird hybrid of reality TV and wrestling.  There’s not much life in that.  It would be like instead of making a third season of Game of Thrones, HBO just aired a reality program based on the making of Game of Thrones.  Cool DVD extra…horrible TV show…especially if you’re doing that in lieu of actually producing a TV show.

I’m not asking TNA to fully embrace kayfabe and revert us back to the 60’s and 70’s here.  I’m just asking them to look up the term “suspension of disbelief.”  We all get that wrestling is a work.  We check that at the door and can look past that as long as you proceed forward within the bounds of the world you’ve created.  The characters don’t know they’re characters in this world.  Within the confines of that ring, it’s as real as it needs to be, just like the alien invasion in Avengers was as real as it needed to be to Iron Man and Captain America.


  1. rudoreels says:

    #YES! #YES! #YES!

    I agree with all of this!

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