Spike TV continues to blend pro wrestling and MMA together, but the question is if it's the right way.
Just one day after Tito Ortiz came out in pro wrestling fashion as Rampage Jackson's surprise opponent for Bellator's first pay-per-view show, as Yogi Berra would say, it was deja vu all over again.
TNA wrestling, the former lead-in to Bellator which history can now pretty much prove conclusively added several hundred thousand viewers to the promotion weekly, had spent the last week teasing a big surprise debut at its show taped in Wichita Falls, Texas.
For two hours, it was teased until the closing moments of the show. The Main Event Mafia, the babyface (good guy) faction that includes former Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle, 90s star Sting, Rampage Jackson and some others, were in a brawl with the heel Aces and 8s, a group dressed up like rejects from a Sons of Anarchy casting call.
Suddenly, the lights went out, and walking down the ramp was, you guessed it, Tito Ortiz. Everyone was pretending to be shocked, most notably Jackson.
It appears in an attempt to promote the Nov. 2 pay-per-view, Viacom will be using both its pro wrestling franchise and its MMA franchise to build Jackson vs. Ortiz.
It's a novel concept, and it's too early to tell if it will work. Unlike when Jackson debuted on the same show and the fans treated him like something of a celebrity, with a hoard of camera phones shooting his entrance from all over the arena, the reaction to Ortiz was indifference.
More will come of this as a second show, for next Thursday, like with Ortiz and Jackson, was taped later Thursday night.
Ortiz made a number of appearances for TNA in 2005, during one of the periods he was at odds with Dana White and UFC. He never wrestled, but made appearances as a special referee. At the time, TNA was attempting to build an Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock pro wrestling match, but Shamrock had returned to UFC.