This month marks the 25th Anniversary of Bruce Mitchell becoming a Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter columnist. No single person has influenced the editorial tone and direction of the Torch brand over the years than Bruce, who brought a hard-hitting, supremely well-informed, speak-truth-to-power approach to his writing. He went after sacred cows out of the gate, such as the beloved among “smart fans” (today’s “Internet fans” or “IWC,” I suppose) Eddie Gilbert and Jim Cornette. He also went hard after people in positions of authority and power who were abusing or misusing that power, or just not delivering a worthy product. He has also applauded and paid tribute to the greatest moments and movements in pro wrestling over the last 25 years, with a style of writing that has yet to be matched anywhere, I contend (despite Bill Simmons’s arrogant and uninformed contention last year that no one wrote at a high level about pro wrestling until his “Masked Man” columnist came along).
To celebrate and highlight Bruce’s stellar 25 years of influential and eloquent truth-telling about this fascinating industry, we’ll be featuring a single column from each of the last 25 years each of the first 25 days this month. His long-form columns were a pioneer approach to pro wrestling journalism, and the next 25 years you’ll experience a slice of what it is that has earned Bruce Mitchell widespread recognition within the industry over the years as being “Pro Wrestling’s Most Respected Columnist.” We began on Oct. 1st with his very first column, from Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #89 (cover dated Oct. 5, 1990).
Today we feature his column from the December 26, 2009 edition of the Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly Newsletter (#1123/1124) in which Mitchell wrote about TNA’s dismal 0.6 rating on Monday night that was a huge blow to their attempt to battle Raw on Monday nights.
NOTE: VIP members can access hundreds of Mitchell columns and audio shows instantly in the BRUCE MITCHELL LIBRARY here, part of the massive unmatched online archives of insider wrestling coverage from over the past 28 years.
HEADLINE: “101 Excuses for TNA Impact’s 0.6”
TORCH NEWSLETTER #1140/1141
COVER DATE: April 3, 2010
Okay, okay, I get it. To the untrained eye the 0.6 rating TNA Impact drew Monday night seems like a disaster. Certainly it’s not the size audience Bob Carter and Spike TV thought they were buying when they invested all that money in acquiring the services of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, Rob Van Dam, and Jeff Hardy. I know my first reaction at seeing that rating was that maybe the wrong guys retired this weekend.
(That 0.6 is not, as you might imagine, the single worst rating a nationally televised wrestling program featuring Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair has ever drawn. A 1997 WTBS replay of Thursday Night Thunder at 3 a.m. on the following Tuesday featuring the two drew a 0.5 rating, so Monday’s TNA rating wasn’t as bad as it may have looked at first glance.)
There was a good excuse for TNA Impact’s rating dropping off like that the day after WrestleMania – wrestling’s biggest show of the year. Even some loyal TNA fans could be expected to switch over to watch Shawn Michaels, “one of the greatest wrestlers of all time,” as Michaels new friend Bret Hart put it, say goodbye to the sport.
In fact, there are always valid excuses for TNA Impact to draw poor ratings, excuses that excuse the likes of Dixie Carter, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo, and Jeff Jarrett from responsibility for the results of their labor. To make it even easier for TNA management on Tuesday (and soon enough, Friday) afternoons, I’ve compiled below a handy list of excuses, all valid, to excuse TNA Impact’s poor ratings from week to week to week
“This week’s poor TNA Impact rating is not our fault because…”
1. Understandably, many of our fans wanted to see all-time great Shawn Michaels retire from wrestling on Raw.
2. Many of our fans didn’t realize Impact started an hour early this week.
3. Many of our fans didn’t realize Impact has moved to Monday nights.
4. The second hour of Impact went up against the first half of the men’s NCAA basketball championship game.
5. These things take time.
6. We’re in this for the long run.
7. Get a life.
8. Hulk and Dixie had a big business meeting in New York.
9. Fans were disappointed that Mick Foley lost a match and was forced to retire.
10. Fans were disappointed that Shawn Michaels lost a match and was forced to retire.
11. Fans were disappointed that Ric Flair lost a match and was forced to retire, but didn’t.
12. The low rating is controversial and Controversy Creates Cash.
13. It’s still WrestleMania season.
14. Vince McMahon called our product “tawdry” last week and it scared off family viewers.
15. Our fans still haven’t caught on that Impact now starts an hour earlier.
16. Hulk Hogan didn’t wrestle Ric Flair this week.
17. The X Division isn’t carrying its weight.
18. We need to get out of the Impact Zone.
19. Fans expected Shawn Michaels to show up this week, but he didn’t.
20. “24” was canceled.
21. If Earl Hebner hadn’t done what he did, Bret Hart would have thrown the WWF Title in the trash live on Nitro.
22. It was a taped show, so fans knew all the shocking twists and turns from reading the “spoilers” on the Internet.
23. Dixie cut back on her “tweeting” last week.
24. Spring training is heating up.
25. Too many bald guys with goatees.
26. Not enough team players
27. TNA ratings always drop after one of our pay-per-views.
28. Eric Bischoff wasn’t in enough segments.
29. Not enough gimmick matches
30. Orlando Jordan’s threesome can’t beat Randy Orton’s.
31. TNA’s incoherent booking is controversial, and Controversy Creates Cash.
32. Bubba the Love Sponge felt disrespected and didn’t rally his Army this week.
33. Hulk Hogan can barely walk.
34. Mike Tenay – you know what I mean.
35. Dixie makes us push A.J. Styles.
36. Dixie makes us push Abyss.
37. Dixie makes us push Eric Young.
38. Jeff Jarrett makes us push Jeff Jarrett.
39. It’s taking time for our fans to adjust to a four-sided ring.
40. The Knockouts didn’t bleed enough this week.
41. Not enough chairshots.
42. Monday Night Football started back.
43. Spike TV won’t make Hulk Hogan one of the captains on The Ultimate Fighter.
44. Many of our fans didn’t realize Impact has moved to Thursday night.
45. Too much wrestling on the show.
46. Fans don’t understand what I and my family sacrifice for fake wrestling matches.
47. Wrestling matches are fake.
48. Not enough insider storylines for the casual fan.
49. Hulkamania was over twenty-five years ago.
50. Those Internet geeks are jealous.
51. Someone people have heard of the guest-hosts on Raw this week.
52. Not enough backstage segments.
53. Fans were boning up, preparing for the NFL Draft.
54. Fans are still waiting for Shawn Michaels to show up.
55. Some of the so-called talent around here needs to step it up.
56. Park Security kept hanging around the parking lot, so Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, Scott Hall, and Syxx Pac were all late for their cues.
57. I should be writing scripts in Hollywood.
58. Some people around here need to step it up.
59. Our most popular star went to jail.
60. Jay Lethal looks like a kid dressing up like his favorite wrestler for Halloween.
61. A.J. Styles looks like a kid dressing up like his favorite wrestler for Halloween.
62. Amazing Red looks like my paperboy, if I still had a paperboy.
63. Samoa Joe is fat.
64. Abyss is our lead babyface. Abyss!
65. Ric Flair is 61 years old.
66. Dixie won’t get rid of Vince Russo.
67. Dixie won’t get rid of Jeremy Borash.
68. Dixie won’t get rid of David Penzer.
69. Fans don’t understand what Jeff Jarrett went through growing up.
70. We need the next Hulk Hogan to step up.
71. Too much complaining in the back.
72. Not enough pyro.
73. Spike TV forces those weird “look-in” segments in between commercials.
74. Those Impact Zone fans think they are the stars.
75. I tried to make the marriage work, but my wife was just too mean.
76. Howard Stern didn’t talk about us last week.
77. Vince McMahon is the God of Wrestling.
78. Too much time is wasted pushing a pay-per-view no one will ever watch.
79. Not enough promotional support from UFC, even though we’re on the same network.
80. Barry Bonds is misunderstood.
81. Hulk Hogan wasn’t in enough segments
82. Ric Flair didn’t take enough bumps.
83. People think pro wrestling is WWE.
84. Maybe we can try the NASCAR thing again.
85. Fans are waiting for Matt Hardy to get here and reform the Hardy Boyz.
86. We need to go to three hours.
87. It’s prom season.
88. Ric Flair needs to put more energy into rolling his wheelchair around.
89. Wait until the video game money comes in.
90. Some people around here need to step it up.
91. The Internet is against us.
92. Fairplay keeps texting Dixie.
93. Vince won’t give Hulk the rights to the “Real American” theme.
94. It’s high school football season.
95. Dixie won’t let us change our name.
96. Anyone who wants out can leave now.
97. Serge designed our t-shirts.
98. Jim Ross laughed and hung up the phone.
99. So did Paul Heyman.
100. Atlanta Braves baseball went into extra innings.*
101. These things take time. Nitro didn’t win from the beginning.”
* For longtime wrestling fans
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