See what I did there? It’s a TNA article, and I used Impact in the title? Kinda witty, eh?
No, not so much? Ah well, let’s move on. Hopefully my article is better than my one-liners today…
With last week’s announcement that TNA was taking Impact on the road permanently, I started thinking about the implications not only for that company, but for the wrestling landscape in general.
In my mind, I was taken back to September 4th, 1995. Yes, trivia marks, this was the first episode of Monday Nitro, from the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. It didn’t seem like a huge deal back then. Lex Luger made his triumphant return to WCW, Scott Norton debuted with the company, I believe Flair and Sting squared off for the 4,183rd time, and the announce team broadcasted from in front of an Panda Express on the second floor. (Okay, I made that part up. One more stab at a joke. Still not funny? Okay, i’m done. My bad.)
Point is, at that moment in time, the debut of Nitro was cool, but nothing overly significant. Eighteen years later, I see it as part of the groundwork of the Monday Night Wars, as well as the beginnings of one of the great boom periods in the history of the business.
I am of the humble belief that this move will be the beginning of another boom period for wrestling. TNA’s success will create the much needed competition for WWE that will make them elevate their game and we might, MIGHT, finally see two quality products squaring off against one another.
Now, I hate to be the bah humbug guy, but we have to address the white elephant in this happy room. Dixie Carter and her crew have a knack for starting a great fire and immediately pissing it out. Everyone loved their unique six-sided ring, so they got rid of it. They laid the groundwork for a great storyline with AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, then offered Claire Lynch. Bully Ray became Bitch Hubby. I can go on with this all night. Therefore, I am happily offering my services as a (complete wannabe) booker extrodinare and (not very) creatve consultant. I will push TNA in the right direction despite itself, and present my…
Five Ways For TNA To Take Over The Wrestling World…..
Treat that first show in Chicago like a pay per view.
It’s common sense, really. This is what your fanbase has been begging for, month and month, for what seems like forever now. Make them remember it. I wanna see a title change, a five star match, and an Aces and Eights reveal that makes Mike Tenay yell “Holy $#%^, it’s _____”. A lot of people are expecting that at some point, Jeff Jarrett and/or Eric Bischoff will be revealed as leaders in the outfit, but I have a better idea. An idea that, if done right, could make CM Punk’s pipe bomb look like a dud firecracker.
Introduce Scott Steiner as the leader of Aces and Eights.
People kiss and make up all the time in wrestling, especially if the money is right. You need look no further than Bruno Sammartino and WWE to see that. Here’s a man that for over 25 years has sworn up and down that he would never do business with that company. Give the man a Wrestlemania payoff, and he’s singing the company fight song.
It would take a lot less than that to being Steiner in, I’m sure. A small stipend and a live microphone is all you need to lock up that ratings machine. If Punk proved anything on that stage in Vegas last year, it was that fans will eat up a shoot promo. As a whole, they thrive for that moment when the curtain is ripped back, and things get real. What better way to make money than to take a complete nut who hates TNA, make his the leader of a group of other guys who hate TNA, and let him say whatever he wants about it. Sold!
Give Eric Bischoff complete control of the product.
Say what you want about the man, but Eric Bischoff took a promotion from running its product out of an amusement park soundstage to being the number one wrestling company in the world. He was not the most liked, he was underappreciated, but he was a creative guru and a revolutionary in wrestling. He revolutionized the way wrestling was presented, sold and taken in by fans. And now, here he is, 15 years older and 15 years smarter, helping run a company that is in the EXACT same position WCW was in back in ’95. If Dixie Carter has any clue, she will take this and run.
Use the Impact Zone to tape a second show every week.
TNA simply has too more talent than two hours of television can hold. To me, the idea of running a second show just makes sense. This is something that WWE has down to a science right now, and I would love to see TNA copy the formula. Raw is a storyline driven show. You tune in for matches, but honestly it’s the storyline that carries Monday nights. Smackdown, on the other hand, is wrestling driven. Make Impact that show, that Raw style program that is driven by the promos and vignettes. Make the second show your old school wrestling product. Try new concepts there, develop younger talent there. And…..
Acknowledge other promotions on that second program, or on Impact
In Japan, you have the Super J Cup. Around the world, you have various tournaments that feature competitors from numerous promotions. It’s a great way to generate interest in wrestling as a whole, as opposed to strictly one company. It is the most far-fetched concept I’ll present here tonight, but why not host competitors from other independent promotions and create true world champions. You want ratings? Put one of Japan’s champions, or the German Tag Team champs, or legends of AAA or CMLL and square them off against the stars of TNA. To their credit, this concept is somewhat in the works already. One of the pre taped pay per views this year is already planned to host hardcore stars from other, smaller companies as well as a few ECW guys, and there’s already buzz. Cater to the niche fan, cater to the IWC, you’re gonna go far.
The trick for TNA is to seize the moment and work within the current landscape of the business as opposed to trying to create a landscape, like Vince did in the early 2000’s. As a fan, I don’t want to be force fed, and I don’t want to be corralled into watching something specific. I want choice, I want options, and I want wrestling to get hot again, and that can happen right now.
In 2001 I wrote an article for an e-zine, indicating that the business would suffer for several years forward due to the loss of WCW and ECW. I mentioned that the product would go to hell without viable competition for WWF/E, and I think, to a degree, I was right. Twelve years later, I am happily predicting that things are about to get good again.
Jimmy Duncan is the host of the Hookers and Shooters wrestling podcast, available exclusively at facebook.com/hookersandshooters. Generally, the show is ready for downloading on Monday morning. Keep calm and listen 🙂