In hours, we will see the official face-off between WWE and TNA. Yes, today is indeed, a historical day in Professional Wrestling, as we witness, the media-dubbed, Monday Night War II.
Yes, this is it. For the unaware, the three hours special TNA Impact will be airing live at 8:00 PM ET/PT – on Spike TV, while WWE Raw will be business as usual, airing at its normal time, beginning at 6:00 PST, amidst online rumors of which WWE reportedly requested an extra 20 minutes airtime from the USA Network. While I tend to incline to referring this as a probably a prelude, or rather, a battle in a potential war, the media are lapping this up, much to the joy of both TNA and WWE.
With both shows being mere hours to be shown, fans speculations across the internet has been rampant. While WWE has more or less, confirmed the contents with the much-anticipated appearance of Bret Hart as the Guest Host of the evening and the unified tag titles match between DX and Jerishow, coupled with the fact you can easily find online that John Cena will not be doing his routine crying over his lost title on tonight's RAW as he will be at the Fiesta Bowl.
On the other hand, Hogan, intentionally or not, might have played a shrewd hand by not announcing any card for tonight's Impact, causing an enormous animosity amongst the online community on what might transpired on tonight show. Browsing through the major online wrestling news sites, you can easily noticed the trends forming up, as the fans and commentators tracked down targets after targets on their whereabout tonight. Ric Flair, Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy, are but just some of the non-contracted big names performer being tracked, with Hardy confirming his involvement on Impact tonight, as a ticket-carrying audience while RVD blogged about his plans to watch both shows at home, which left Flair as the only one being unconfirmed as yet. That, along with the fact that Scott Hall, Sean 'X-Pac' Waltman, Angelina Love (recently re-contracted) and longtime pals of Hogan, Nasty Boys, are likely to appear. With the likelihood that Hardy will be making his WWE return, just in time for WrestleMania to pick up his feud with CM Punk (though Hardy had histories of making the... weird decision), the rest of the rumor are not exactly groundless as Hogan, along with TNA now, does indeed provides that alternative choice to these veteran workers who do not want to/or not accepted by WWE.
That by any means, do not meant to imply that WWE is sitting comfortably on their laurels, with tonight's war. Last week's RAW has a most intriguing segment as Vince addressed the rumor regarding Hart, complete with a decently composed and commendably impartial video package on Hart's legacy and the Montreal Screwjob. In his typical ego-maniacal form, Vince struggled badly to get the words out as he went on to mentioned the fact that Hart never shook his hand at the Hall of Fame ceremony and stuffs. Then he proceed to motion to leave the ring without announcing the decision, out came Shawn Michaels, with his HBK theme instead of the DX one (Fans will understand the significance of this). Initially approaching Vince to book the Undertaker vs. Michaels rematch for the upcoming WrestleMania, HBK went on to touch on Hart's return, promising that “only good things will happen.” They went on repeating that quite a few times, somewhat driving the elusive point that HBK is going to take care of Hart for Vince. Needless to say, crowd reactions were off the roof.
Vince and WWE had played an amazing hand here by bringing back Bret Hart, a move thought impossible by most if not all fans. To drive the point further, it basically won the battle with this announcement, given the fact that his return provides so much possibilities, so much potentially great storylines. Imagine the unbelievable stand-off in the ring between Bret and Shawn. The intensity of the greatest feud there was, there is and there ever will be, is killing. As long as they keep the DX comedy sequence and that midget anywhere near Hart, we can safely say, this is hard to screw up.
While many might question the intentions behind such major offense from TNA and therefore belittle TNA for playing out of their league, this move is in fact, more beneficial to TNA than you might think. And in fact more beneficial to even WWE, the wrestling industry and more importantly, us, the audience.
At this turn of the decade, it is truly an exciting time to be a wrestling fan.
What many deemed as a suicide mission by TNA is in fact, a particularly calculated move by Hogan. In terms of ratings, there is simply no way TNA is going to defeat RAW tonight while most RAW-watching demographic don't even know the existence of such a product. But does anybody remembered what was speculated about WCW Nitro when the original Monday Night War started? Like what Hogan mentioned in his interview with IGN, the situation now is almost Deja Vu. The general consensus is that switching from Thursday to Monday is the main problem, given that it's only for one night. However, you will never know for sure. Getting wrestling-watching demographic to switch the channel to check out their product or getting non-wrestling-watching demographic to switch on their TV to check out their product could be just as hard. But what's important is that TNA have managed to gain awareness from the RAW audience either way. Be assured that the ratings of the forthcoming IMPACT will be able to outshine ECW.
As for WWE, the prospect of a likely Monday Night War on TV is likewise going to attract attention from media, and any attention is good attention, in Vince's view (ok, not the Chris Benoit type of attention).
The workers in the wrestling industry, be it TNA or WWE employees, or even ROH, will be silently praying for the success of TNA tonight. Just so that another major power can rise to increase their opportunity and paycheck tremendously.
As for us, the audience, we are blessed with the greatest gains out of this ordeal, for the most obvious reason. It's so blatant that we already profited even before the War begun. Just why do you think we are getting Bret Hart back now? With that in mind, for the first time in a very long while, I sincerely extend my gratitude to Hogan, for bringing the competition to the game.
There can be no clearer way to illuminate my point than Lance Storm in one of his routine Q&A session in his remarkably insightful blog:
Q: The internet wrestling fans (the more smart fans) often complaining about the overall look of the product today. Still wwe nor tna are changing significant parts of there booking etc. Why is that? Are we a minority so they don’t have to listen to us? Or are they plain ignorant?
A: I think the theory is that you are the most loyal and thus the least likely to turn away. It’s the casual fan that they are trying to re attract that is the priority.
Nevertheless, I am truly expecting TNA to surprise me tonight.
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