During the 31st of January 2013, TNA teased a huge announcement during Impact. Usually when TNA (or wrestling companies in general) tease a major announcement, it turns out to be a damp squib to say the lease. Amazingly, this wasn’t the case. Dixie Carter announced that TNA would be leaving the Impact Zone to travel on the road.
Anyone who watches TNA will know exactly how important this move is for the company. The Impact Zone can be hot occasionally and doesn’t look too bad on camera (mainly due to the fact that Bischoff knows how to dress a TV studio to look better than it is from his WCW experience). However, due to the fact that fans are basically seconded from the theme park, the crowds can be…completely and utterly apathetic. I was going to try and be a bit more charitable in my description, but I decided that it was a waste of time. To the viewing audience the Impact Zone can severely damage the product. Bad matches and bad segments can be carried by crowds that are hot. Great matches can be totally buried by no crowd reaction.
A hot crowd can create the illusion that what is going on in the ring is worth watching to the audience watching at home. For instance, the shows that will be aired over the next few weeks will be more watchable purely because the audience are pretty much guaranteed to be hot. Taking the show on the road to a new live crowd every week will help that a lot as they’re not burning out the same fans week after week after week to the point that they become completely unresponsive to what the company is portraying in ring. If the people in the arena don’t care, it dilutes the chances of people caring about the product.
Over all this is a really positive move for TNA. But we’ve spoken enough about the positives. There are also negatives.
Exposing your product to a live, paying audience takes away control you have from taping. For instance, last year at the Wembley tapings Garett Bischoff was booed out the building and the segment had to be reshot multiple times till the crowd finally acquiesced and didn’t boo him straight to hell. If that had been on live TV TNA’s plans to continue to push Garett as a plucky babyface…or whatever they were trying to push him as being, ‘cos he was heel to me damnit!
Another example of this is at Bound For Glory. The match was built as the last step of Jeff Hardy’s road to redemption (let’s ignore that they built this over two weeks as opposed to the whole BFG series). Aries was turned to be the dastardly heel. Unfortunately for TNA, the crowd didn’t quite take to it. Hardy was booed to high heaven while Aries was treated like the babyface. The problem is that Hardy is TNA’s equivalent of John Cena, and given that TNA’s audience skew older a live crowd might not be into him as much.
If TNA have their babyface champion being booed on every live show who they’ve just signed to a big contract to keep him from the jaws of the WWE this could be a create a slightly awkward situation for the company.
The bottom line is though that this is a move that TNA absolutely had to make. If they get it right (a massive if given TNA’s track record it should be said) it will really add to the product and make it much more compulsive TV if the live crowd is into it.