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Friday, April 29, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts/Pro Wrestling--- Tito Ortiz' Potential Future in Pro Wrestling
by Ivan Trembow for MMAWeekly.com
Former UFC fighter Tito Ortiz has signed on to make a special appearance on the next TNA pay-per-view, which will take place on Sunday, May 15th and will be called "Hard Justice." TNA stands for "Total Nonstop Action" and is a pro wrestling promotion that puts on shows three times per month in Orlando, Florida. TNA's official web site made by the announcement by saying, "Former UFC Champion Tito Ortiz has signed to be a major part of TNA Wrestling 'Hard Justice' May 15th on Pay-Per-View."
The announcement from TNA leaves it up to the reader's imagination as to whether Ortiz will actually be doing a pro wrestling match for the company or will simply be making a non-wrestling appearance. In fact, Ortiz' role will be limited to being the "special guest referee" in the scheduled main event of Jeff Jarrett vs. AJ Styles.
The Pro Wrestling Insider web site previously reported that TNA wanted to sign a special guest referee for the Jarrett vs. Styles match and was in negotiations with not only Tito Ortiz, but also Roy Jones Jr., George Foreman, and Mr. T. Jones' and Foreman's asking prices were deemed to be too high by TNA management, and Ortiz was deemed to be a bigger name in 2005 who would create more interest among fans than Mr. T would at this point.
Ortiz, who recently confirmed on his official web site that his days as a UFC fighter are over, could potentially make more special appearances for TNA in the future, but at this point he has only signed on for a one-time appearance. TNA's top main event wrestlers get paid on a per-appearance basis at a rate of anywhere from $1,000 per appearance to the most extreme cases of $5,000 per appearance for names like Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, who are huge names among pro wrestling fans.
It is very likely that Ortiz is being paid somewhere between $1,000 and $5,000 for his special guest referee appearance on the May 15th TNA PPV. TNA cannot afford to pay more than that because their PPV buy-rates are in the range of 20,000 to an all-time high of 35,000, while the promotion's TV ratings are in the range of 0.1 to an all-time high of 0.3. TNA is currently behind on pay with many of its wrestlers, but it is extremely likely that as a free agent name that they want to impress, they would make sure to pay Ortiz in full.
When Ortiz held out of his UFC contract in 2003, he was in negotiations with WWE management to potentially become a pro wrestler in WWE. Those negotiations never advanced to a point where a deal seemed likely at any time, simply because WWE is very firm in not wanting to bring in anyone who isn't going to be willing to be on the road working for them anywhere from 200 to 300 days per year, and Ortiz is not willing to work that kind of schedule.
On the other hand, TNA has made a habit out of signing free agents to short-term contracts and inserting them in main event story lines, which they did with Ken Shamrock in mid-2004. If Ortiz were interested in doing actual pro wrestling matches instead of just making "special appearances" for TNA, it's very likely that TNA would be interested. However, the downside for Ortiz is that TNA only runs three shows per month (two TV tapings and one PPV taping), and he would only be making $1,000 to $5,000 per appearance.