To those who have missed out on this latest piece of ridiculousness, TNA had a list of a few hundred indy wrestlers from around the globe, organised into “brackets”. Fans were then encouraged to vote for their favourite candidate, who would then progress to the next stage. Significantly, you could only vote once in each bracket.
As voting snowballed, we learnt that it wouldn’t be one candidate from each bracket progressing; it would be three.
And then voting limits were removed, meaning you could vote repeatedly for your favourite.
And then voting was stopped altogether.
TNA’s official statement read thus:
“In January, we launched the Gut Check Challenge as an online competition to give many independent wrestling stars a chance to showcase their talents and potentially earn a spot on the IMPACT WRESTLING roster.
“However, due to a number of issues with the voting – and in fairness to all the competitors – we have decided to suspend the Gut Check Challenge.
“We will be re-launching the contest in the near future with a new voting system that will eliminate the voting issues. Stay tuned to our website for updates – and thank you for your continued support of TNA and IMPACT WRESTLING!”
Several wrestlers and fans I’ve spoken to are speculating on the “voting issues” – many have complained that initially there were lots of British indy stars in the lead thanks to their devoted fanbase (most prominently Lionheart, returning from retirement after three weeks, and RJ Singh) and wondered whether TNA simply didn’t like the look of the winners it seemed they would be presented with.
I don’t know. What I DO know is that it is absolutely nonsensical to think that someone is genuinely going to get a chance at being on a professional wrestling roster because of a fan vote via social media.
If TNA didn’t like the look of their potential winners, one cannot really be surprised that they have decided to change the rules midway through. Professional wrestling is not real life. It is a story.
Do you think that WWE’s stupid Twitter votes actually make a difference to the card of the show you’re watching? No. You think they make you tweet hashtags and then they stick on the match they’ve planned.
Where TNA seem to have gone wrong is allowing people to see the voting in progress, keeping up the pretence that professional wrestling is a democracy, rather than a scripted piece of theatre.
Please remember – if you think professional wrestling companies are being open and honest, it’s probably a work. They’re not giving you a vote because you genuinely have a say; they’re giving you a vote because they want you to feel like you do.
I don’t think TNA have handled this well; but equally I can’t help feeling that the people who are so flamingly angry and bitterly disappointed are handling it even worse.