Say what you will about TNA from a historical perspective, the wrestling federation has become leaps and bounds better than it was in the past. This is in large part thanks to the talent the company has acquired over the last year. Between Moose, to Mike Bennett, all the way to the former Damien Sandow, TNA has put together a roster worth following.
By no means has that resulted in a perfect product. The weekly episodes the company hurls out for the public to consume is still filled with far too many gimmick matches, the owners – from Dixie Carter to now Billy Corgan – have a weird infatuation with putting themselves on TV despite being ill-equipped, and the broadcast team of The Pope and Josh Matthews leaves a lot left to be desired.
Since two of those three negative areas were recently covered, let’s focus on the announcers.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with either Matthews or Pope. Both are fine enough wordsmiths on the microphone to have roles in the wrestling company. However, there is little chemistry between the two. Even worse, the feel they give off while calling matches – or any of the action for that matter – is that of trying to educate the consumer on the confusing events happening around them… all while not actually knowing what is happening around them.
There’s even more to it than that. TNA’s perception is still that of a fledgling, horribly booked wrestling federation. While Eric Bischoff wasn’t a genius in all areas of pro wrestling, he did know that people would correlate eras in a company’s trajectory to that of the people calling matches in it.
For WCW it was slightly more complicated. Bischoff also wanted someone with a far less southern dictation than Jim Ross. From an overall standpoint, though, the former head of World Championship Wrestling knew that when people heard Ross’ voice, they were thinking of smaller-time programming – which is what people thought of JR at that point in his career and connection to WCW.
That same thing applies to TNA. Every single week we hear the current announce team speak words on our picture-box, we will subconsciously – and immediately – think “same old TNA.” It is a mostly unfair way to go about judging the growth of the company, and pinning failures of it on two guys who have very little to do with it is even less ideal, but perception is often more real than whatever the current reality is.
Thing is, that last part is important to note. TNA’s current reality is a far better product than it has been in the past. Maybe not as good as it was when it first debuted and was truly rooted with in-ring heavy work, but it is climbing back from the ashes to bring us relatively strong weekly shows.
The fix here isn’t easy, however. There is no magical potion to give the current announce team to make them feel less like the two guys we will subconsciously attach to TNA being an abomination. Nor are there hundreds of other qualified broadcasters roaming the streets just waiting for TNA to give them a shot at calling bouts.
Throughout the entire history of pro wrestling, while factoring in all the major federations that have ever graced our living rooms, there have been very few good broadcast teams. Hell, there have been very few tolerable ones. Save for Joey Styles’ one man show at ECW, and peak Jim Ross with a peak Jerry Lawler, there might be a few individual broadcasters we’ve enjoyed, but rarely the complete pairing of them.
Asking TNA to get a better broadcast team is slightly unfair, as we could ask this of 99 percent of all wrestling companies during 99 percent of those companies’ histories.
It still doesn’t mean the company should ignore it. Adjustments can still be made, even if they are of the slight variety. Whether that’s asking the two to work together more off-screen to build a better chemistry, breaking up the duo to add a fresher feel is anyone’s guess.
At the end of the day TNA is getting better. As it does, so too should its broadcast team. Because, well, if it does not, people who don’t regularly turn on the federation’s weekly show, but are willing to give them another chance, will hear those guys being those guys and immediately turn off the TV.
Why? Because we hear them, then think “same old TNA.” And that’s not a good thing.