You may not have noticed, but wrestling does not have a good history of creating hype and then delivering on it.
Think of every single super hyped ‘surprise’ you’ve ever witnessed in this business. Whenever we hear that, unending talk about something that’s going to “Change The Face Of The Industry!”, what we tend to wind up with is something very ho-hum and insignificant that will barely move the needle at best. But this tactic is used constantly by companies desperately struggling to get noticed, such as late stage WCW and – oh, how convenient – TNA in 2013.
That’s not to say that at the time America’s number two wrestling promotion (and all too often, in more than one sense of “number two”) didn’t have a prior history of overhyped announcements. To wit, Dixie Carter’s claim that something huge was happening at Slammiversary 2010 that would change TNA forever led to…well…Tommy Dreamer showing up with his ECW buddies to watch. She’d go on to walk that back, announcing the “huge at Slammiversary” and “change TNA forever” were two separate things. But really, they weren’t, as one was the lead-in to the other, and the end result was HardCORE Justice (inducted!).
Another example of this sort of failed build is the subject of today’s induction. And it has much less build than the above. How little? Try six days. That’s right, TNA made zero reference to this on the previous Impact. That episode, for the record, featured the Bound for Glory Series, the ongoing feud between Main Event Mafia and the Aces and Eights, an Ultimate X match for the X Division Title, and the fallout of Chris Sabin’s recent hotshotting to the World Title. There was no indication that a mystery would emerge next week.
With such a low level of hype, how can it be disappointing you ask? Let’s just say far, far lower than the low expectations you lowly expected.
The story begins on July 26, when TNA claimed to have received a mysterious video giving a warning about their next event. Instead of calling the police or something, given that this could easily be some random individual coming to hurt their talent, they put it on YouTube, because of course you do.
Or maybe they weren’t threatened because they were sent by someone who appeared to have learned his craft by watching a thirty-seven minute how to “How to Make Great Videos” tutorial on YouTube and…got bored 23 seconds in.
Distortion, poor picture quality, and audio glitches that somehow manifest themselves as reversals and high- and low-pitched versions of the speaker overlapping on themselves. If they wanted to properly hype this, they could have easily presented this as an “unauthorised transmission”, Max Headroom-style. It bore all the visual hallmarks of someone hacking the feed, after all.
See: Callihan, Sami (2015, 2020)
If you’re one of the non-robots who couldn’t divine what Mr. #August1Warning was saying, he…eh, wasn’t really saying much of anything. Only that he’s coming, he doesn’t work for Impact already, and that he’s one man out for personal justice.
That’s just poor planning – if he’d chosen HardCORE Justice instead of personal justice, he could have had a few more weeks to hype himself.
Whoever this individual was, though, he fancied himself a social media manager. Case in point? He claimed he’d give a clue if his first video hit 250,000 views. No, really.
“And if we hit 500,000, we’ll do an unboxing video!”
Eventually, this goal was reached, and just like any reputable nogoodnik, he proved to be true to his word, sending another fantastic video over.
The main clue that this dropped was that #August1Warning was not Dave Bautista, but he could totally beat up Dave Bautista.
I mean, what black blob on a white background couldn’t say that?
SPOILER: Dave was too busy training for his role as a disappointing reveal in WWE to be a disappointing reveal in TNA
The next day, our international (“international” meaning “international to anyone outside of the USA”) man of mystery posted a third video, evidently not wanting to wait for a social media milestone to let this one go.
“I am not a rock star like Chris Jericho”, he tells us. That’s being might generous about the stardom level of Fozzy in the year 2013, so while he’s not Chris Jericho, apparently he is a fan of Chris Jericho.
“I am not someone 99% of you have never heard of”, he further promised.
The question was, was he someone 99% of us would care about? We’d have to find out.
By this point, people were getting wise to who it really was.
At least two people, anyway. Not pictured: several people convinced it was Hardcore Holly
All this rampant speculation didn’t stop our new friend from sending a fourth video.
Was it more of the same? You betcha!
“I am not Bill Goldberg. He never faced me,” he claimed, which probably caused long-time fans to breathe a sigh of relief at the prospect of an ex-WCW guy being shot down. Glacier fans worldwide had to be let down.
Instead, we get these final ominous words: “August 1 is closer than you think. See you tomorrow.” Very wise of TNA to try and appeal to the demographic of people who had no idea how to use a calendar. Or thought there could be four-hundred days in a single year.
So yes, August 1 arrived, and the whole hype of #August1Warning continued to seem relatively, almost a warning of sorts you may say, low-key. Aside from the commentary and the Main Event Mafia wondering who it was, it was largely business as usual. The Bound for Glory Series happened, Chris Sabin and new X Division Champion Manik had a good non-title match, and the Aces and Eights prepared for the Sabin/Bully Ray steel cage match that would happen in two weeks.
The only real indication that anything different was coming was this small segment from the Aces and Eights’ regular commentator, Taz. Having been locked out of the ring, he tried to expose this #August1Warning for who he was, and brought a roving cameraman to a luxury ride that had been parked outside, to find…
…a laptop that was playing one of the videos.
Would you believe me if I said Vince Russo hadn’t rejoined TNAyet?
Thankfully (or sadly depending one your perspective), that wasn’t the real reveal. The final segment came, with the Main Event Mafia calling out the bikers, and anticipation for this new arrival was high… actually, that’s too generous. Anticipation for this new arrival existed, at least among some people. They jaw-jacked about a match set for the August 22 edition of Impact, a 5-on-5 loser-leaves-TNA match, and brawled a bit until the lights went out… And when they came back on, who was it?
MMA Legend Tito Ortiz!
The cheering of the crowds, the unbridled joy at this reveal, and the anticipation of what was going to come next with Tito Ortiz on the TNA roster was notable in its complete and utter absence. Whilst most of the actual wrestlers in the ring tried to sell the magnitude of this event, Mr. Anderson’s face said it all.
That is the look of a man who has no idea what is going on, and doesn’t much care to find out. Or one that ran out of Head & Shoulders a couple days ago.
It really is a true TNA moment, with just a total lack of atmosphere and overall ‘meh’. Enjoy it here if you’d like.
That largely was because the reason for Tito’s arrival was obvious: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was appearing on TNA shows at the time, and Bellator (which, like TNA, aired on Spike TV) wanted to promote his upcoming fight with Tito.
All of this makes perfect sense…except that people who watch wrestling and MMA these days watch it for completely different reasons, and the meaningful crossover ship had long sailed in 2013.
The very next week, Bully Ray and his Aces and Eights opened the show, where he proceeded to admit he wasn’t much impressed with the reveal (you and the rest of us, Bully) before moving swiftly on to the actual wrestling storyline that was going on between him and Sabin.
But we would get something relevant to this induction, as Tito Ortiz came out to cut a promo. It didn’t last long before he was interrupted by Kurt Angle and Bully Ray who both proceeded to blah blah on him. No worries, though – Tito explained that while everyone had questions, he “didn’t have too many answers.”
Wait, what? Wasn’t this about a campaign of personal justice?
HardCORE Justice came up, and Tito blew off Rampage Jackson’s offer to join the Main Event Mafia team in the 5-on-5 match next week, which should have been an alarm bell for anyone who’s ever watched a wrestling show…
…because it telegraphed what was going to happen, with Tito smashing Jackson with a ball-peen hammer during the main event!
He was with Aces and Eights all along!
Of course this was going to happen when the opponent you’re promoting is in a face faction!
Tito’s main duty in the Aces was to stand behind Bully Ray, looking menacing, and occasionally delivering a bad promo. And he didn’t even get that first part right, because if any man looks silly in a biker kutte, it’s this one.
OH! And if you look closely, you will notice that he’s wearing Devon’s kutte – said brother had been fired as a result of the 5-on-5. They didn’t even bother to make him new patches.
TNA! TNA! TNA!
Apparently, even this made him too much of a threat for Hulk Hogan’s liking, having him banned from ringside in his final appearance on the September 5 edition.
So, what happened? Bellator were worried that all of this physicality that Tito was having (read: zero) would lead him or Rampage to get injured before their big fight, so both men were pulled from the company leading up to Bellator 106. And what did that achieve?
Tito Ortiz got injured anyway.
On top of that, this was meant to be Bellator’s PPV debut, but without the marquee fight, they had to drop it to free TV.
In the end, this was an amazing example of mystery hype that didn’t deliver, to hype something else that didn’t deliver.
And if you can’t deliver something huge with the promise of a mixed martial artist turned AV amateur turned hacker, can you really be trusted to deliver on anything?
Note from RD: I want to thank our own unnamed hacker (who sent this file in under the handle of, no joke, ‘pseudonym undecided’) for delivering on this induction!!