Tag Archives: Impact Wrestling

The Wolves, Team 3D and The Hardyz entered into a “Best of Three” series, where the first team to score two victories would be crowned the TNA World Heavyweight Champions.  Once a team won a match, they were allowed to choose a stipulation for the next match in the series.  Each team not only won one match apiece, but also lost their “signature” matches (The Hardyz lost a ladder match to The Wolves, who lost the pure wrestling match to Team 3D, who lost a tables match to The Hardyz).  Therefore, logic dictates that The Wolves should’ve retained the titles seeing as no one team was able to decisively gain two victories in the series.

However, the series was continued with a fourth match, where it was implied that the original series was set with four matches and not three.  This reality was conveniently covered up with the story that the Wolves sought to stake their claim as a legit legendary and dominant team against the other two teams of vets, which in any other situation would paint the Wolves as disrespectful young punks who don’t know their places when in the presence of greatnes (i.e. HEELS).  But with Bully Ray interjecting his thoughts in only a way Bully Ray can, fans were coerced to be slightly more sympathetic to The Wolves who were simply trying to “hold their own” among two great tag teams in wrestling history.  A Full Metal Mayhem match (i.e. TLC) was announced, and all of the aforementioned was largely forgotten because the anticipation of a FMM match with these three teams took high priority over all things.

The Wolves retained, and now need competition.

One Day Later: IMPACT Wrestling On the Move!

Brace yourself...IMPACT Wrestling is moving to a new night near you! | Photo: www.HighTouchMoving.com
Brace yourself…IMPACT Wrestling is moving to a new night near you! | Photo: http://www.HighTouchMoving.com

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 13, 2014) – The Aug. 7 episode of IMPACT WRESTLING, TNA’s flagship program airing Thursday nights at 9/8c on Spike TV, drew 1.6 million viewers (P2+, +3 Rating), the largest audience since mid-February of this year. The episode was also up against six nationally or regionally televised NFL pre-season games, the first of the NFL season.

Historically, IMPACT WRESTLING ratings are highest during Q1, however in Q3 2014, IMPACT WRESTLING has experienced a steady increase in total viewership and key demos that are exceeding ratings from Q1 2014, and rivaling Q1 ratings from previous years. To date, Q3 2014 ratings have attracted more viewers in the highly sought after Men 18-34 demo since Q1 2012, and the highest ratings for P2+, P 18-49 and Men 18-49 since Q1 2013.

This was the headline touted by associates and fans alike who boasted proudly of IMPACT Wrestling’s recent ratings success during the past month.  For at least one whole week, a wrestling fan would have to have been living under a rock to have not been privvy in some way, form, or fashion to this blockbuster news.  With so much negative press surrouding the company and the rumored demise of its television deal with Spike, it was quite spectacular to hear that TNA’s New York tapings were garnering more viewers than they have in the past five months, but also that they were absolutely smoking the stiff competition (FOOTBALL!!!) they faced on Thursday nights a 9PM Eastern, 8PM Central Standard Time.

And then this happened:

Photo: ImpactWrestling.com
Photo: ImpactWrestling.com

Speculation on both sides of the argument (pro-TNA or anti-TNA) ran rampant on why such a decision was made.  Some suggested that the mere thought of WWE moving its B-show Smackdown back to Thursday nights caused TNA to preemptively relocate their flagship program in order to avoid another sound thrashing from the world’s most prominent wrestling promotion, while others countered that the move is reflective of the recent ratings success and the possibility that Spike has indeed renewed the promotion’s contract.  Unfortunately at this time, neither one of those things can be proven as a fact or reality.

Through the very words of their president, TNA has given us some insight as to why this move is happening.  Per TNA President Dixie Carter via ImpactWrestling.com,

 “Moving IMPACT WRESTLING to Wednesday nights gives existing fans and new viewers an opportunity to enjoy both wrestling and live sports even more throughout the week.”

That makes sense; IMPACT Wrestling was moved to Wednesday nights so existing fans and new viewers (not fans; those are two different demographics, trust me) will have the opportunity or option to enjoy wrestling AND live sports … i.e. THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!!!  This is very considerate of the minds in charge at TNA headquarters; to actually think about fans and viewers in order to provide them with a product that allows them to watch both wrestling and football is something that TNA’s competition would probably never ever do.

But one can’t help but to point out the massive pink elephant in the room … if TNA enjoyed so much ratings success on Thursday nights, consideration be damned why in the hell are they moving the program to Wednesday nights?!?!

That’s just it: at this crucial moment in time where “negotiations are ongoing”*, TNA cannot stand to lose any viewers if they are lobbying, through United Talent Agency, to renew their deal with Spike or land a new deal with another network, especially if their leverage lies within the fact that they can get and maintain 1.6 million viewers (and not fans) per week between now and late September.  It would clearly be suicidal in regards to landing a new television deal to keep the show up against football and its much more rabid fan base.

The risk in this move, however, lies in whether or not the 1.6 million viewers from last Thursday’s episode of Impact Wrestling, and the 1.4 million viewers they get consistently, will make that move with IMPACT Wrestling from Thursday to Wednesday nights.  We always assume that people will make those types of moves easily, but we cannot assume or speak on the viewing habits of 1.4 – 1.6 million people; just because we may make that move doesn’t mean that all of us will be easily inclined to do so as well.

Also, given that one climactic moment from last week served as the hook for the episode, how sure are we that those same 1.6 million people tuned in last night and will also tune in next week without some sort of major or landmark hook?  TNA has to ride the momentum of last week’s show into next week on a completely different night, and I’m hopeful that the suits on their executive board know way more than us fans about the competition they face on Wednesday nights; let’s hope that those same 200,000 new viewers from last Thursday are not preoccupied with other shows or events on their Wednesday nights.

Quick comparison as an example: when WWE launched the WWE Network, they promised stock holders and tons of other folks that they expected to get 1 million subscribers by the end of the year in order to recoup the money dumped into the project.  It was only a month or so ago that they reached 700,000+ subscribers, also accounting for those that initially subscribed and eventually dropped the network.  With hundreds of thousands of hours of content on the Network, as well as the ability to view each monthly pay per view as a part of the $9.99 package, it shouldn’t have been a problem for WWE to land 1 million subscriptions seeing as their viewership for RAW alone always teeters between 3.5 and 4+ million viewers, good or bad episode.  Extra incentives and shameless plugging can’t get them to 1 million subscriptions; are we that positive that the viewers will just simply flock to Wednesday nights?  Fans will watch the show no matter what night it comes on, but viewers are fickle and one is justified in believing that TNA can expect at least 100,000 viewers to drop from the move alone.  The WWE Network subscription numbers show us that “fans” pale in comparison to “viewers,” and I for one am not too sure that all of IMPACT Wrestling’s “viewers” will readily shift to a new night and time in a week.

All in all TNA is once again stuck in a seemingly unenviable position: the move to Wednesdays frees them from facing the competition of live sporting events, but at the same time there’s no solid proof (that we’re privvy to) that says they will keep their numbers by moving to a new day.  It is confusing as a fan to celebrate the success of their first set of New York City tapings by moving the show to a whole ‘nother night.  But, it is what it is.  As was stated before, we can only hope the fans will follow along … because it just seems as if TNA can only go up from where they are now.

 

*Has anyone else noticed that when commenting on the situation between TNA and Spike, the only thing being said by anyone – including the wrestlers – is that “negotiations are continuing”?  I get that it’s standard given there situation, and even the most legal thing they can comment about it, but it just seems weird that they have to add that phrase “negotiations are continuing” verbatim to their responses about the future of the promotion instead of simply saying, “I have know idea of what you’re talking about.”  But I guess if they said that, THAT could be used against them by detractors as well.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t … 

 

 

IMPACT Wrestling Review 8.7.14, a.k.a. “Don’t Tease the Animals”

Remember folks, it's not fun to kick a person when they're down, and in 2014, corporations are people too. #BeAStar
Remember folks, it’s not fun to kick a person when they’re down, and in 2014, corporations are people too. #BeAStar

Well … what is there to be said about TNA Entertainment, LLC that hasn’t already been said …?

It was difficult reviewing this episode of IMPACT Wrestling because of … well … the obvious. Contrary to popular belief I do indeed make it a point to intentionally watch IMPACT each and every week, silently hoping each time I tune into Spike TV (HD channel 1145 with AT&T’s U-verse® service) I will find something strikingly awesome and energizing about the product. The problem is that rarely happens, and each disappointing viewing draws me one step closer to succumbing to the warm embrace of sheer insanity. Insanity, of course, is that invasive habit of repeating the same actions and expecting different results each time; what could possibly be more insane than watching a show weekly and expecting it to be different than what it is?

This is why it was difficult to review IMPACT given all that has (or hasn’t) occurred in the last week and a half. In order to enjoy the show for what it is, as opposed to watching it with an expectation that it’ll be more than that, I had to completely disregard everything I knew or thought I knew about the product and its stars. I had to ignore completely the fact that the show was taped some time ago and that I already knew what was going to happen because of the spoilers; I had to dismiss the hearsay about the promotion’s television deal with Spike. I had to pretend like I didn’t see the closing video package last week that prematurely promoted the end of Dixie Carter’s table dodging days, as well as overlook the angle’s astonishingly similarities to the storied Stone Cold Steve Austin/Vince McMahon rivalry that defined the Attitude Era. Simply put, in order to enjoy the show I had to literally approach it with my mind as clean and clear as a blank slate, reading and willing to absorb everything as it happened and fully appreciate the development of stories and characters as it happened in front of my eyes.

There within lies the problem; I can’t truthfully comment on whether or not the show was “good” based off of that criteria alone, specifically because this show – much like most episodes of IMPACT – featured “good” wrestling … and that’s something that TNA does more consistently than anything else. It is extremely rare when TNA will produce bad wrestling, and even rarer when they produce something that is smash-the-gas-pedal exciting from start to finish. So I apologize in advance for being the Negative Nancy that refuses to celebrate the mediocrity of an “okay” show highlighted by a man slamming his female boss through a table.

No one celebrates an “okay” show; if anything, people rush to their computers to tear apart shows that are simply okay, dismantling every single minute piece-by-piece, noting how certain stars are being further buried and how much more stale the product is becoming as time rushes forward. Every segment is heavily scrutinized, each minor slip up dissected with a fine-tooth comb, and minor inconsistencies magnified and palavered upon prominently on message boards, blogs, and Twitlonger tirades.

Pro wrestling fans long for non-stop action and excitement from beginning to end and it’s those types of shows that receive and should receive our praise, accolades, and adulation. Damn being drawn in for one or two segments here and there; we want the entire show to capture our attention and hold it for its duration. We want something that excites us, something that intrigues us profoundly, and an exhilarating exhibition of athleticism and logically engaging drama that forces us to literally stand up in our homes and scream along with the fans gathered in the arena.

Thursday’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling didn’t do any of that for me … at all. But that’s just my little ol’ opinion.

For ever sarcasm drenched comment made here there are at least ten proponents of the promotion who not only loved the show but can also provide you with the minute details on all the things that made the show awesome. Complimenting those thoughts are the legions of perspectives that can go on and on about how great and awesome the New York tapings have been for the company, the first of three sets of tapings scheduled to happen in the Hammerstein Ballroom of the Manhattan Center.

Perhaps the episodes feel fresh and great because they’ve moved away from the dull and lifeless tourists of Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Maybe the brighter lights attract our attention a bit better than the dreary and dim lighting of the Impact Zone; perchance the simple and more focused storytelling captures our imagination differently than it has in episodes prior. It’s quite possible that the moral of the wrestlers has increased, comingling with the electricity of the live crowd and permeating through our television screens in an oddly positive Poltergeist-ish way. Who knows?

ImpactPoltergeist

What I witnessed and saw Thursday night was no different from the other IMPACT Wrestling broadcasts that were just as “good,” or “phenomenal.” It was an okay show that revolved around Dixie Carter going through a table, something that was revealed last week, discussed about this week (by Bully Ray and Dixie Carter), highly promoted Thursday night and executed at the end of the show. Fans are currently riding high on this singular moment, feeling that the Toss Your Boss moment will give the promotion enough momentum to convince Spike officials to renew their TV contract … but I’m not supposed to consider anything outside of the show, right?

Enough of that; here’s what stood out to me on the show:

  • #ItHappens

Let’s not kid each other and pretend that the episode was noteworthy for much else outside of Dixie Carter going through a table. There were other matches and the wrestlers did well in them, but the whole show – its feel and the execution of everything else in the show – all played third fiddle to highly publicized table spot. In terms of what happened tonight, Bully Ray made good on his promise and along with Dixie Carter provided a huge moment for fans that will go down in the promotion’s history books as one of those moments. The crowd literally erupted when Dixie went through the table, and Twitter was alive with tweets and excitement and the like as soon as “it” happened.

Okay, I’ll cheat just a bit.  #ItHappens did remind me of something I’ve seen before …


It cannot be denied that fans ate this moment up, but we have to wonder what’s next in regards to the Dixie Carter evil authority figure story. Where does she go from here, and where does Bully Ray go from here? There are tons of possibilities, but we’ll have to wait until next week to see exactly how the next chapter in the saga unfolds.  The major issue facing the promotion is that after such a major television moment, they’re going to have to top it with something as equally massive or ride the momentum of the moment until the next major pop comes along.

Well … there was a video package in the middle of the broadcast that talked about Team 3D facing The Hardyz in what was described as an epic match … but if it hasn’t happened, we can’t speculate on it.  With all that being said, however, Dixie Carter going through a table at the hands of Bully Ray during a time where men are being heavily scrutinized and sanctioned for promoting violence against women is one ballsy way to separate one’s company from its competition. *slow clap for TNA*

I’m sure that you’ve got far more interesting things to say about tonight’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling, so feel free to share those thoughts. But as for this particular blog and perspective, we can only look forward to next week’s episode to see just how earth-shattering the ramifications will be for Dixie Carter’s demise.  Feel free to leave your thoughts, because this is all I got.

 

*Honorable mention – Are we fine and dandy at the fact that Rycklon Stephens and Gene Snitsky were hired to work in the promotion for literally three weeks?  We’re cool with that?  Okie Doke.

Rumor and Reality: Thoughts on the TNA/Spike TV Relationship

SPIKE TV LOGODenial is quite possibly one of the worst expressions of belief that a person can use to convey their feelings on a particular subject.

I say this because denial is a coping mechanism, a way a person can deal with a truth or reality they can’t, for whatever reason, readily accept. The thing that makes denial so debilitating is the fact that it can take many forms; refusing to admit that a problem exists, deflecting attention and directing one’s focus towards a less significant problem or issue, casually dismissing the severity of the problem and overemphasizing the pros or “bright sides” of the topic at hand, or even jumping to a completely different and (sometimes slightly) unrelated problem that exist outside of the topic at hand are a few of the ways denial rears its categorically repugnant visage.

Denial affects everyone, and all people have at one point in time denied someone or something as a way of approaching or handling a problem or issue. It’s natural for humans to deny that certain things are happening and that certain things will happen; it’s how we cope with change, it’s how we defend our way of experiencing life as we know it, and it’s how we avoid acknowledging the fact that the longer we live the more things will not stay the same. Change is inevitable, and no matter how we defend ourselves against it to protect our way of life and how we see it, change cannot and will not be denied.

All this talk about denial comes about after the rumored news that Spike TV has chosen not to renew TNA Entertainment, LLC’s television deal after its expiration in October of this year. Needless to say the internet sharks jumped at the smell of TNA’s blood in the water, with fans and insiders alike ruthlessly launching their opinions on the rumor into the world wide interwebs. What’s interesting about these opinions is not the prevailing thought that TNA’s rumored loss of a television deal is a “good” thing for pro wrestling, but the rebuttal of and arguments against said prevailing thoughts. This is where the concept and expression of “denial” gets pretty damn intriguing.

For every hundred or so celebratory remark made at the rumored demise of TNA’s television deal with Spike TV, there has been at least one well-respected proponent or sound perspective supporting the promotion and its employees. The proponents and perspectives highlight the fact that if the rumors are true, tons of individuals will be affected financially and the pro wrestling business will suffer as a result of a lack of diverse televised products. Because of this very real situation for a substantial number of women and men, these same proponents and perspectives also wag an accusatory finger at naysayers for even reveling in the rumored news. In fact, the exact word used by some to describe this particular glorification of negativity was “sad,” as in it’s sad that some people would have the unmitigated gall to play the fiddle while TNA is seemingly mere moments away from merrily gallivanting into heavy traffic on Crash and Burn Avenue.

Ironically enough while we shouldn’t deny the blatantly obvious truth that preemptively reviling in TNA’s supposed misfortune is a tad bit devious, we should also be wary of focusing too much on such a grand exposition of schadenfreude as a means of deflecting attention from a very serious issue facing the promotion and its ramifications, assuming at some point the news will be verified or disavowed. The problem isn’t that some pro wrestling fans wallow in the muck of TNA’s failures; the problem is that TNA might have lost a television deal with one of the few notable North American television networks willing to broadcast pro wrestling.

Damn whether or not somebody’s laughing at this whole situation; what in the blue hell does this mean for TNA and for the business on the whole??? THAT’S the issue at hand, not how we feel about a few folks here and there pointing at a photo of Dixie Carter in their best Nelson Muntz impersonation.

hatersI don’t feel it’s “sad” that some have chosen to speak favorably of this rumor, as this type of response to bad news is typical of people in this country and perhaps even around the world (see: Bad News Barrett, the heel, as he’s cheered by fans). To speak of some pro wrestling fans as the only type of human being that glorifies the demise of a particular promotion or institution is misleading and only furthers the deluded notion that wrestling fans are some sort of sub-human mythical creature living under bridges, surviving off of Doritos and small woodland creatures. We’ve all been conditioned to celebrate bad things at the expense of denying the truth behind those incidents and occurrences.

Just as most wrestling fans don’t consider the talent and employees that could be affected by the potential loss of TNA’s television deal with Spike TV, most people don’t think far ahead enough to consider anything beyond their own noses. As North Americans we’ll celebrate our war victories in a given country without truly considering exactly why thousands or millions of people were killed on both sides of the skirmish. We’ll talk about our academic exceptionalism even though the average reading and comprehension level of our citizens is on a 4th grade level. I had someone call me just to say that they would lobby against the existence of my job, while in the same breath, acknowledged that rising unemployment was a serious issue in our country. For whatever reason, we all enjoy tap dancing over dead bodies just as much as we like birthday cake with ice cream or a nice frankfurter at a baseball game; that’s something that will not change anytime soon in the human experience, especially as we burn rubber down the road to rampant and unrestricted individualism.

While this rumor hangs precariously over TNA’s promotion and its product, should we really be more concerned with catcalls and heckling?

Following the buzzards in this regard is a futile attempt to direct our collective attention away from the real issue. We’re denying the reality that TNA has been thrashing against the tide of S**t’s Creek without a paddle for quite some time, and this recent rumor is just one more in a string of questionably (in)accurate rumors that point to much larger issues that in almost twelve years have yet to be truly rectified. It’s easy to acknowledge that “fans” have always “hated” TNA for indescribable reasons, and it’s easier to deny that there’s something that gives weight and credibility to some of those reasons. The longer we focus on promoting the insanity of commending negativity, the longer we deny ourselves the opportunity to really talk about what TNA has experienced and is experiencing.

If Spike TV has chosen not to renew TNA’s contract, it’s not solely because the suits at Spike TV “hate” TNA; rather it has something to do with all the internal dealings we are not (and should not be) privy to. One could assume that the ever steady ratings of TNA (which declined slightly upon Vince Russo’s exit from the company) were an issue, or that TNA’s inability to expand its audience beyond an average of 1.4 million people (when several of Spike TV’s home grown shows can provide similar or slightly lower numbers) might have made execs a little hesitant about moving forward with another deal.

Clearly that’s not an issue that’s more important than fans speaking poorly about TNA.

While we bring up the point that several hard-working wrestlers and TNA employees could be without steady paychecks from living their dreams and passions, why not bring up the fact that the promotion — which is believed to be (without any proof either way) making a “profit” — lowballed most, if not all, of its well-known stars on contract renewals, forcing them to make the decision to leave and wrestle elsewhere? If memory serves correctly, tons of fans were actually glad that stars like AJ Styles, Frankie Kazarian, and Chris Daniels were lowballed and blamed them for not kowtowing to the promotion’s brazenly apparent cost cutting measures.

Clearly that’s not an issue that’s more important than fans speaking poorly about TNA.

Let’s ignore the fact that after 12 years TNA is still attempting to solidify its identity, continues to rely on the popularity of defunct promotions or popular wrestlers from other promotions to keep the product relevant, and moves rather slowly when it comes to hiring and promoting hot free agents and talent that don’t reek of the indelible fragrance of other promotions in one way or another.

Let’s completely dismiss the fact that by her own admission, Dixie Carter’s reasoning for investing in TNA had more to do with revenue streams that it does the “art” of wrestling that so many fans wax poetically about. Taken directly from the SI.com article on Dixie Carter and TNA Wrestling, LLC:

When TNA was recommended to her as a client, her father encouraged her to take on the fledgling wrestling company. “Wrestling is big business,” Bob told his daughter. A few months later, with the company floundering and weeks away from shuttering its doors, Dixie would use her father’s own words to get him to invest in TNA.

“I remember calling my dad,” she said. “They’d never invested in anything that was non-strategic, much less this non-strategic, but I definitely had inherited my dad’s sale skills. I knew there was a reason there’s a Lowes across the street from every Home Depot or a McDonalds and a Burger King or an Avis and a Hertz. I saw how passionate this fanbase was. You had this one monster with over a billion-dollar cap and worldwide appeal with tons of potential revenue streams. Even if you just pick up 10 percent, you become a 100 million dollar company. From a business perspective, I just saw the potential.

Let’s shamelessly refuse to consider the threat of Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling (GFW) promotion, which is currently seeking a television deal conveniently at the same time as Spike TV supposedly opted not to renew TNA’s television contract. Let’s renounce the evidence that even if Spike TV has dropped TNA and its programming, the network and its earlier incarnations (TNN – The Nashville Network; TNN – The National Network; and The NEW TNN – The NEW National Network) has broadcast pro wrestling for almost 15 years and could very well continue to do so with GFW and without TNA:

  • ECW on TNN from August 1999 – October 2000
  • WWE RAW is WAR from September 2000 – September 2005
  • TNA iMPACT! from October 2005 – May 2011; TNA Impact Wrestling from May 2011 – October 2014 (???)

Let’s feed into the delusion that WWE and TNA are the only places wrestlers can go as we tacitly imply that wrestlers can’t find good work in indy promotions or fast growing companies like GFW or Ring of Honor Wrestling (ROH).

Of course none of these talking points are more important than dogging out fans who speak poorly about TNA.

I personally don’t want to see TNA fail, but discussing its misadventures and setbacks should not be seen as equivalent to succumbing to the addictive euphoria of watching as things appear to fall apart. That, however, is something completely different from doing a hat dance around a Dixie Carter effigy. While ultimately classless and downright tacky, the end of the world as TNA and its fans know it isn’t coming from the smarmy and snarky comments of keyboard warriors and armchair quarterbacks. The grand revelation of all of the promotion’s issues, TNA’s apocalypse if you will, is coming from the lips of Kevin Kay and Spike TV’s board of directors. Why not focus on that reality instead of woefully shaking our heads at “zOMGs and LOLs” here and there on the internet?

Those that do find some sort of ecstasy and climax in the rumors of Impact Wrestling’s Spike TV cancellation are merely doing what people have done since the beginning of time. Nero reportedly fiddled while Rome burned to the ground, and entire families took pictures around the “strange fruit” of lynched bodies hanging from trees. People even talk of WWE’s recent financial troubles almost as if they’re giddy that the massive company has once again stared down the twin barrels of bankruptcy and financial ruin, and some fans pretend like TNA is the only wrestling promotion that receives an inordinate amount of the IWC’s fiery ire (TNA fans who despise WWE, ROH, and take no notice whatsoever of GFW…we’re looking towards your direction…). Human beings will always talk s**t and find any reason under the sun to gloat when someone or something opposing their own interests faces adversity and difficulty.

When it comes to this situation between Spike TV and TNA Wrestling, LLC, our energy and attention would be better suited towards hoping that in the next three months more than just a television deal can be renewed. TNA as a company has the potential to be something greater than what it currently is; unfortunately, this unrealized or untapped potential is nothing more than wasted energy, and a new television deal to showcase the same old stuff they’ve been doing for years is a major concern that, in the long run, should be the second most important thing.

To TNA, it should be more important to grow the product beyond the safe confines of its steady and consistent demographic. To TNA, it should be more important develop more home grown talent instead of coasting off the fumes of other’s successes and experiences. To TNA, it should be more important to spend more time on developing and promoting their brand and less time catering to the MMA desires of its athletes or other promotions. To TNA, it should be more important to give fans a quality, well-rounded and expertly presented product than it is to allow fans to dictate what type of ring your employees will perform in because “it looks different” as if the identity of the promotion lies solely in what the damn ring looks like. To TNA, it should be more important to find and promote sponsors like Takis, Totino’s Bold, Diet Mountain Dew, Juicy Drop Pop, and Jackson Hewitt instead of relying on 5 Hour Energy and Spike TV’s financial support to fill in the gaps when necessary. To TNA, it should be WAY more important to figure out their taping schedule for the rest of the year now that Universal Studies is no longer their home, particularly since they also couldn’t afford to tour and tape over the long haul as they did last summer.

All of these things are way more important than whether or not someone is filled with joy over the rumors of Impact Wrestling’s cancellation.

We can’t allow the demon of denial to cloud our vision on what’s really happening here. When TNA gets its affairs in order, the same nagging problems, the same awesome action, and the same hyper-cynical critics will exist under the same sun and stars. There’s not much we can do to change the opinion of people on either side of the fence who are themselves unwilling to change, but at least we can collectively raise one another’s consciousness on what’s really important. Without a television deal, without even the hint of viable options outside of Spike TV, TNA would literally have to pull a rabbit out of its ass to remain a fixture in the business. There aren’t enough snarky comments in the world that can make that reality any less real, significant, or relevant than it already is on its own.

There ain’t no denying that reality at all.

 

The 6-Sided Ring Debate, Pt. 1 – Fans vs. Wrestlers

Photo courtesy of wrestlingrumors.net
Photo courtesy of wrestlingrumors.net

TNA Entertainment, Inc. recently released a poll asking fans to decide whether or not their flagship program, IMPACT Wrestling, will use a 4 or 6-sided ring moving forward, beginning at the scheduled set of TV tapings. Fans are asked to visit the IMPACT Wrestling website to cast their vote, where we’re also told that “this is not a one-off event,” and that “the future of IMPACT Wrestling’s ring is in [our] hands.” For all intents and purposes and according to their website, TNA is allowing us fans to choose the ring “we” want to see their wrestlers perform in as the promotion moves forward. This is a hallmark moment for the promotion and for wrestling fans, as we’re once again expecting this promotion to deliver on a promise to “listen to its fans,” giving us some power to dictate how we want to see what happens in the ring.

TNA’s iconic 6-sided ring was used from the promotion’s inception in 2002 all the way up to 2010, where it was put out of commission at the beginning of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff’s TNA tenure. While the reasoning for axing it varied, the most popular rationale focused on the hexagonal ring making the promotion appear amateurish when compared to other promotions dominating the sports entertainment genre. With a growing and more pressing need to appeal to investors and advertisers, the company opted to bring in a traditional 4-sided ring, a move that received mixed responses from fans but was eventually accepted by and large. Appreciation and fondness for the 6-sided ring hasn’t dissipated completely, as fans have occasionally reminisced on the days of its use and have petitioned to have it make a return at least once a year (primarily during the Destination X pay per view event).

As it turns out, not everyone is keen on returning to action within the confines of the 6-sided ring. Two IMPACT Wrestling athletes, Ethan Carter III and Austin Aries, have taken to social media to express their thoughts on ring’s potential return:

6Side_016Side_036Side_046Side_05 6Side_06

The most interesting thing about their comments is how they disagree with giving fans the power to determine something that has an immediate effect on their safety and well-being. The implication from their comments is clear: people who can’t and don’t wrestle, particularly the fans, should not have the right or choice to dictate the conditions in which wrestlers wrestle. To quote Austin Aries directly, “What’s wrong with wrestling? Letting people who’ve never done it, and never put their bodies on the line, run the show.”

The current generation of pro wrestling fans is entrenched in an Era of Entitlement, where we all feel that our opinions are gospel and that what we say or believe “should be” what’s given to us by promotions. We write blogs and tape video segments that analyze and scrutinize a promotion’s willingness to “listen to the fans,” and any promotion that fails to do so is immediately demonized and characterized as a “failure” or “failing” because it refuses to kowtow to the demands of its fans.

A harsh reality that most fans don’t consider is that our demands at times can be irrational and borderline insane, especially if we’ve grown accustomed to consuming a particular type of pro wrestling product. Our demands don’t seem irrational if we’ve become desensitized to seeing wrestlers grapple in thumbtacks and shards of glass, or if we’re used to seeing athletes jump off of ladders or structures that are 20+ feet in the air. Such activity becomes normal for us, and the moment we stop receiving such action we begin to grouse about how promotions don’t care about what fans want to see (i.e. the bloodless PG Era), never minding at all the fact that the wrestlers no longer have to damage their bodies beyond what’s necessary in order to entertain us.

This is what makes this debate so pertinent; as promotions continue to fight for revenue and fan appeal, the lines that once kept us behind a particular veil of ignorance are being blurred slowly, giving us new and unparalleled access to the inner workings and politics of the business. When we begin to believe we know and understand how the business works, we offer our critiques as dictum or mandates that must be followed lest the business as we know it comes to an end. Promotions that fall victim to this logic assume that mildly entertaining these dictum or mandates will endear them to fans looking to have their “voices” heard.

Our dictum and mandates are varied and often come from a subjective, single-minded perspective devoid of any in-ring experience; we present what we believe to be the best for our entertainment without any acknowledgement of what wrestlers endure for that same entertainment. We disregard the fact that being a fan is about enjoying what’s presented to us, and in the event that things change, we’re still invested some way in what happens because we’re fans. If any promotion has to entice fans to stick around by giving us the “authority” to make pivotal decisions that affects a wrestler’s ability to do his or her job or that could potentially make what they do more dangerous than necessary, then the state of the business is in far more dire straits than meets the eye.

So yes; TNA’s 6-sided ring comes with a flood of beloved memories and exciting expectations that could invigorate the promotion’s fans and inject some much needed energy into the IMPACT Wrestling product. But if all of that comes at the expense of the wrestlers’ health and longevity in the business, and the decision to bring the ring back rests in the hands of fans and not the men and women who must perform inside the ring, then we should have the chutzpah to turn down anything that could potentially make wrestling more dangerous than it already is.

jamesstormbloodyWhether it be a 6-sided ring, bloodletting, thumbtacks and kendo sticks, chair shots to the back, death-defying falls from 16-foot ladders, such things should only be used sporadically at most to enhance a feud or storyline. Such things should also be decided upon by the men and women who have to wrestle under those conditions and their employers. It’s one thing to ask fans if we’d like to see, in this instance, a brief or extended return to the 6-sided ring; it’s another to ask us to do the job of making that decision when we’ll never really get the opportunity to consult the wrestlers for their perspectives on the matter.

As fans of pro wrestling, we constantly offer our respect to those who put their bodies through pure hell to make us laugh, cry, cheer and boo. These men and women work hard for our enjoyment, and if the comments made by Aries and Carter are truly sincere and honest off-the-cuff remarks, we know exactly how we should vote when we visit IMPACTWrestling.com. On the other hand, if we truly enjoy the 6-sided ring and expect it to have a beneficial impact on TNA’s product, then by all means we should prepare ourselves for the return of the hexagonal circle.

*Edit: Wrestler Sean “X-Pac” Waltman has also added his thoughts on the potential return of the 6-sided ring:

6Side_086Side_09
Tweet Credits: Wrestlezone.com

L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – “TNA World Heavyweight Champion vs. AJ Styles”

994_b2817edf79750dc373157d782cce30ec_m
Photo: © 2013 TNA Wrestling, LLC. All rights reserved.

Former TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles will defend his title in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday, November 3.  His opponent will be El Mesias, also known as Judas Mesias from his days in TNA.

The word “former” is used to describe Styles because earlier today it was announced via TNA’s new 24/7 initiative that the promotion’s president, Dixie Carter, has stripped Styles of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.  As early as last week, however, it was also leaked (via spoilers) that Carter would utilize tonight’s Halloween episode of Impact Wrestling to announce a tournament to decide a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

As much as this storyline reeks of something done before, most fans welcome this news as a sign of exciting things to come within the promotion.  TNA has been beleaguered in recent weeks with more negative news than paternity tests on The Maury Show, so any bit of positivity for the company should be received with open arms and smiling faces … even at the expense of fuzzy logic.

AJ Styles defeated Bully Ray at TNA’s 2013 Bound for Glory pay per view to become the promotion’s new World Heavyweight Champion.  Styles successfully defended his title against the former champion on the October 24 episode of Impact Wrestling where, despite constant please and bribes from Dixie Carter, walked out of the company while still in possession of the championship belt.  It was during an in-ring interaction with Carter that Styles made it clearly known that he did not have a contract with TNA nor did he intend to sign a new one.

At that moment AJ Styles technically abdicated his position as TNA World Heavyweight Champion, thus vacating the title and giving Dixie Carter the go ahead to vacate said title … which she did today.

When Styles faces El Mesias this Sunday for Mexico’s AAA promotion, what exactly will he be defending?

The TNA World Heavyweight Championship is TNA’s most coveted title, an award given to the promotion’s top heavyweight wrestler.  Being TNA’s World Heavyweight Champion implies that you’ve faced and defeated competitors from all around the world on behalf of Total Non-stop Action Wrestling, LLC.  TNA recognizes you as their champion and allows you to defend their title in their name against competitors they deem worthy of having a shot at it.

If TNA no longer recognizes an individual as their world heavyweight champion, for whatever reason, that individual can no longer claim the right or authority to be the TNA World Heavyweight Champion; plain and simple.

The title currently held by AJ Styles means very little inside of TNA and even less outside of the promotion.  It is a symbol of his last reign as TNA World Heavyweight Champion, but that’s about it.  Even more damning is the fact that AAA can’t recognize him as TNA World Heavyweight Champion within the Mexican promotion especially after it was announced by TNA President Dixie Carter that he was stripped of said title.

As far as the storyline goes from this point, AJ Styles will tour the world defending a title and championship devoid of all but sentimental meaning.  The title he possesses is no longer sanctioned by the promotion he no longer works for; AJ Styles will literally tour the globe to defend his own personal Global Championship.

Where could TNA possibly go with this storyline?

magnusDixie Carter will publicly announce the beginning of the tournament to crown a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion on tonight’s episode of Impact Wrestling.  This tournament could easily last a month, with Magnus eventually being crowned the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

AJ Styles returns after having several awesome matches and “title defenses” around the world, making a claim in TNA that he is still the TNA World Heavyweight Champ because he wasn’t defeated for the title.  His claim would be (and should be) immediately dismissed by the real TNA World Heavyweight Champion, who would possess the promotion’s only sanctioned World Heavyweight Championship.

Styles would claim that after defending his “title” against legendary stars around the globe, Magnus could never rightfully claim to be “the man” in TNA because, as the saying goes, he’s yet to defeat “the man.”  Styles would go on to insult Magnus by calling him a paper champion, a puppet of Dixie Carter that will get used and abused for years just as he did.  Styles would claim that Magnus’ only way of legitimizing himself and his legacy in TNA would be to prove that he can best the company’s de-facto face and a true world champion.

Magnus would have nothing to gain by wrestling Styles, so he refuses to wrestle him for some time.  To Magnus, bragging rights for defeating a former champ that left the company means nothing to a champ that climbed his way up the ranks and defeated TNA’s biggest names to gain recognition as their World Heavyweight Champion.  Magnus would refuse to face Styles because facing Styles, at this point in his career, would be beneath him.

Styles and Magnus would go back and forth in a war of words for a period of time before a third party steps in and forces them to face each other for the rights and privileges to be called TNA’s World Heavyweight Champion.  Magnus wins in a hard fought battle and becomes the “face” of TNA moving forward with renewed vigor.

That’s one way things could go; but alas, what do YOU think?