What was Spike TV thinking?
On Wednesday Bellator announced a PPV between Rampage and Tito Ortiz and then a day later Ortiz was revealed to the TNA wrestling audience. An interesting choice by Spike TV, and not a smart one according to MMAMania’s Matthew Roth:
The announcement makes sense from a business perspective as both Ortiz and Jackson have a real track record on both Pay Per View and television. Ortiz and Chuck Liddell drew a 1,050,000 buy rate for UFC 66, while Jackson’s bout with Dan Henderson on Spike TV set the record for highest ratings for MMA in North America with 4.7 million viewers. With Bellator’s failure to gain a foothold in the television market, this is their hail mary pass.
If that was the end of the story, it would be fine. Who cares that Jackson and Ortiz are a combined 2-6 in their last eight bouts or that Ortiz is 1-7-1 since UFC 66? It’s a ‘freak show’, but Bellator has the talent in Mo Lawal, Mike Chandler, and Pat Curran to round out the card with some legitimate and intriguing bouts.
The issue is that last night, Tito Ortiz also debuted on TNA Impact Wrestling as the man behind the #August1Warning tweets. He walked down the ramp to face off with Jackson and the rest of the Main Event Mafia. To some this may not seem like a huge deal. To you, I say don’t be stupid. Detractors are always looking for reasons to call the legitimacy of MMA into question.
The line between MMA and professional wrestling is already fuzzy. The UFC has followed the WWE’s model for years and used it to built itself into a PPV powerhouse. Dana White’s personality is very much like Vince McMahon’s character you see every Monday night on Raw. The promotion of events and fighters mirrors the WWE’s strategy. The two even focus on fan involvement by way of social media interaction.
But the difference is that the two never crossed paths or worked together in a co-promotional capacity.