News broke out yesterday that TNA Wrestling, after much anticipation, finally signed a new American cable TV deal with Discovery Network channel Destination America.
Details are still scarce on the deal as to what it truly means for TNA President Dixie Carter and the future of her wrestling promotion. Dixie has already mentioned we could see some announcements in the near future:
It was a big day yesterday w/top execs from @DestAmerica at our offices. MANY exciting announcements coming…..VERY SOON…..
— Dixie Carter (@TNADixie) November 21, 2014
We’ve also received some word from TNA producer Bryan Edwards that, if to be believed, everything will be changing for TNA in 2015:
There are some details I’m sure we will find out in the coming weeks. How are Canadians going to watch Impact in 2015? The TNA World champion is from Canada after all. Is this going to effect how TNA distributes videos online at all? Will they continue the multi-tapings, move to a live and taped or go live?
Instead I want to focus on what TNA can do to change their momentum in 2015:
The Death of TNA
It’s time to give the Internet exactly what it wants. For all of the people who cheer for the WWE like it’s the New York Yankees against TNA’s Boston Red Sox, it’s best to just go ahead and make right a wrong from years ago. It’s time to kill TNA.
Not the company of course. The name.
“Total Nonstop Action” is a great way to describe the action but it is a terrible name for a pro wrestling company. A few years back with Mick Foley in the fold, it seemed as though TNA recognized this and tried to change the name to Impact Wrestling. What they were really doing was just adding the word “Wrestling” to “Impact” as a way to try and say they were the wrestling show compared to WWE’s Sports Entertainment. There is no real “TNA” website as you instead goto impactwrestling.com to see all of the details on the company.
For those that don’t remember, the original reason for calling it “TNA” was so people looking for Pay Per Views (back when TNA was a weekly PPV company) would see something called “TNA” and think it was a porn program. They buy it, don’t get angry that they purchased wrestling with ladies dancing in cages and instead became pro wrestling fans. If that sounds ridiculous to you, don’t worry. You’re normal. The problem is that they continue to carry the name without any embarrassment.
In going to Destination America, there’s no better time than now to call the company Impact Wrestling and finally put “TNA” to rest. When Time Warner purchased Jim Crockett Promotions, they stopped calling the company JCP and re-named it after one of the top shows on the TBS Superstation: World Championship Wrestling. Impact Wrestling is a name we’re all familiar with. No need to go out of the box.
Impact Wrestling is coming to Destination America. That doesn’t mean TNA should.
Make a big splash the fans will care about
Prior to the announcement of the new TV deal, word got out that since Alberto Del Rio finalized his deal with WWE, he was free to go anywhere and one of the places he would go is TNA (the other being Lucha Underground). Originally there were chuckles of, “If there is a TNA in 2015” but it’s pretty clear with Destination America, the former Del Rio has a home to goto.
Bringing in a guy like Del Rio is a good haul but also expected. A big criticism of TNA has always been their reliance on former WWE stars over creating their own stars. It takes a bit of time for a former WWE star to re-develop themselves, or for people to stop seeing them as a “Former WWE Superstar” and instead as a worthy member of the TNA team. While I have nothing against Del Rio making appearances in TNA, he should be the only “big name” former WWE star doing it.
Instead, TNA needs to make talent acquisitions that are going to get people talking, and not talking about them being former WWE stars. Examples of names that could get people whispering would be like the son of Scott Hall in Cody Hall. Hall is in his early 20s and already looking like an impressive big man, towering over most of his opponents. He seems to be avoiding the WWE development system unlike other second and third generation prospects. Grabbing up Cody Hall would be great for TNA, especially since Scott Hall these days is sober. You get Scott Hall for free if you bring in Cody.
Another big splash that won’t cost them anything really is a change to the broadcast team. There’s word that Mike Tenay’s deal is up in TNA in January and that Jeff Jarrett could be looking for Tenay to work alongside Jim Ross in calling the New Japan Pro Wrestling PPV for Global Force Wrestling. While it would be sad to see Tenay go as he has been a loyal member of TNA since its inception (I mean, look at his name: TeNAy), it’s time for a change in the broadcast booth. A month ago, TNA signed former WWE play by play announcer Josh Matthews. So far he has only been involved in a few YouTube segments with Rockstar Spud. Having him call the action for Destination America would be a welcome change to the broadcast booth. He also has experience working with Taz (though replacing Taz could also be a welcome change to that broadcast booth, especially if replaced by the right person). Is Matthews a former WWE talent? Sure, but much like EC3, he’s a guy the WWE never properly utilized. It’s something even Paul Heyman agreed with. Talent deserves a shot. Matthews deserves the seat.
Appreciate the fans there now and new fans will come
For everything TNA has tried in the past to create new fans, one way works better than anything else: strong fan service.
TNA is always at its peak when they truly give their fans what they want week in and week out. When they ignore the mocking of the loyal WWE fan and stick to what THEIR fans want. When TNA fans ask for great wrestling and the company gives them great wrestling matches in return, it’s the kind of thing that makes a cynical wrestling fan stuck watching the WWE product stand up and go, “Oh wait. You’re not supposed to love-hate everything?”
TNA fans ask for lots of wrestling, some entertainment, strong characters, strong divisions and no BS. They want an alternative, not a facsimile. That’s really not anything that cannot be given.
In the past few months, with the company in limbo, we’ve seen the resurrection of the X Division, the resurgence of the Knockout division and strong main events month in and month out. With exception to the poor handling of Bound For Glory in Japan, the product has always been above the line of mediocrity. Maybe it hasn’t been headline catching or shock television, but it has been competent television. Competent television is a starting point that Destination America could work with.
There will be less people able to watch Impact Wrestling on Destination America than on SpikeTV. The first few weeks are going to lead to a lot of cynics commenting on the drop in viewership and discussing whether the changes will be good or not. The best way to weather this storm is to stick to what the fans support and fight through it. Lower ratings are to be expected. Disappointment in changes is to be expected. It’s all about avoiding Hulk Hogan’s “Six Sides only got you so far!” situations and instead going straight for embracing the alternative.
My favourite moments watching TNA are the ones in which the company just does its own thing. When Joseph Park debuted, I was convinced the fans weren’t going to let it work. Smark fans these days will chant, “HUSKY HARRIS!” when Bray Wyatt is trying to get a new gimmick over. But Park? The fans completely embraced the gimmick instead of trying to prove each week how they smart they were. It’s those kind of moments that makes one ignore the weaker aspects of storylines (what is even going on with Sam Shaw anymore?) and focus on what’s working.
How should Impact Wrestling look on Destination America in 2015? More important is how we feel about it, and it should feel like this:
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