FATP: 5 Ways for TNA to make a better Impact
What’s up guys? Before I get started on this week’s column about TNA Wrestling, I wanted to delve further into the column I wrote last week, which was about the comments made about John Cena from former WWE stars. From some of the feedback I got on Twitter and through other means, some of you might have misunderstood why I chose to write about that particular subject.
I chose to do something different last week and report on some newsworthy items from people who had been interviewed on one of my friends’ podcasts, instead of stating my opinion on the man himself. I merely reported what others had said and then I tried to balance it by putting a point of view forward to defend Cena. Some people might have misinterpreted that as me trying to bury him. For once, that wasn’t what I was trying to do. I tried to put forward a balanced point of view and if it didn’t come across that way, then I’m sorry.
Enough talking about last week, let’s get ready to talk about TNA Wrestling and how they can begin to make an impact on the casual wrestling fans out there. I have a lot of respect for every man and woman that puts their career on the line every week to entertain us and I want TNA to succeed, so I’m going to try to be as positive as I can.
1 – Limit the use of the veteran talent (i.e. Hogan, Angle, Jarrett and Sting)
In some way, each one of these guys has contributed to the wrestling business for the best part of 30 years, but it’s fair to say that, apart from Angle, their best years are now behind them. There’s no way that they should have to put their bodies through the abuse anymore.
Whether it’s Hogan, Jarrett or Sting, they’ve all got the big name value to add to the product if they’re used in the right way. Hogan in particular has had multiple back surgeries, so he’s lucky to be walking unaided at this stage. The new role that Sting has on IMPACT is perfect. It allows him to be on TV every week without taking any bumps and he still gets to have some interaction with the audience.
To be honest, Hogan hasn’t made much of a difference to TNA since he rocked up a couple of years ago. To start with, there was some excitement, but now it’s kind of tailed off a bit. I’m not saying that Hogan doesn’t have something to add to TNA, but he should’ve earned enough money over the least three or four decades to make sure that there’s no need for him to be on national TV every week at his age.
It’s not that these guys don’t have anything to offer to TNA as a company, I just feel that if we saw them less, it would mean more when they did show up on TV, or at a PPV. They could always do a promo with some smart-ass young heel that thinks he knows everything, that leads to a one-off match.
I’d go about it in the same way that the WWE has handled Jerry Lawler, Booker T and Ricky Steamboat over the last two years. They were put into feuds with younger guys on the roster like The Miz, Cody Rhodes and Chris Jericho, so it made it feel special when they got in the ring.
To give TNA the best chance of evolving into a bigger company, they need to concentrate less on legends like Hogan & Sting, and continue to invest in their own home-grown stars.
2 – Be consistent with the roles of each performer (not from heel to face and back again)
This is the one thing that I think we can all agree on and that pisses us all off at times. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that pretty much every wrestler on TNA’s roster has turned from heel to face and back again. The list is endless. I’m sure I’ll miss some out but AJ Styles, Daniels, Kazarian, Abyss, Mr Anderson, Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode and James Storm pretty much sum up what I’m talking about.
It seems like the average time they give a wrestler to be a heel or a face is less than six months. How are the fans supposed to get behind a character if they don’t know whether they should cheer or boo him? Pretty much the only guys who’ve stayed in the same role in TNA over the last 18 months have been Rob van Dam and Bully Ray.
They’re former ECW legends that still have a lot to offer. Bully Ray in particular has had the best 12-18 months in his career lately. I’ve been so impressed with his character and I’ve seen a depth in his performances that I never thought I’d see. I always thought he was destined to be a tag-team general for the rest of his days, but Bully Ray seems to have pulled this from out of nowhere (hey Michael Cole, how ya doin?!).
Here’s who I’d have as babyfaces from the list I went through earlier. To me, AJ Styles, Kazarian, Mr Anderson and James Storm work better as babyfaces than they do as heels. The same can be said for Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode, Daniels and Abyss working as heels. Although Angle wasn’t a TNA Original, he’s added something to TNA that was lacking for years, and that’s ESTABLISHED star power.
There’s nothing that needs to be said about Angle. Before he came to TNA, he was already a multiple-time World Champion and had worked with some of the best names in the business. Kurt has the ability to put on an amazing match with anyone. All you need to do is watch his matches with Samoa Joe and Mr Anderson to see how brilliantly he still performs.
The fans believe in him because they understand the role he’s playing. The fans won’t buy into any wrestler if they don’t know what his role’s supposed to be. They’ll either tune out or be indifferent to his work, regardless of how hard he’s trying. To make their own stars, TNA needs some consistency and that’s something that can only come from the creative team, agents, bookers and management. They’ve got the future of TNA in their hands, whether they succeed or fail.
3 – Move the TV tapings away from Universal Studios in Orlando
The final way for TNA to progress in my opinion is for them to stop taping IMPACT Wrestling in Orlando. I understand that they only do it at Universal because of costs, but they’re hurting the product by having too many consecutive tapings in one location.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they should be booking places like Madison Square Garden or the American Airlines Arena, but what they should try to do is to book tapings for arenas that are bigger than a soundstage, but smaller than a 10,000 seater venue. Once the venues are booked, it’s the responsibility of the management to come up with believable feuds and exciting matches to fill the places they’ve booked.
Initially, they should try to get arenas booked in places that are steeped in wrestling history. The perfect areas would be New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta or Charlotte. That way, they know they’re almost guaranteed to get some interest in their shows.
It might cost a bit more to start with, but getting bigger crowds in bigger arenas, will eventually translate into increased TV ratings and more PPV buys. In the end, it’ll only benefit everyone who watches and works for TNA.
4 – Persuade Spike TV to continue to show Impact Live on Thursdays
It’s no surprise that the TNA product has improved over the last couple of months ever since Impact went live on Thursdays. The ratings might not have shown it initially, but let’s take a look at why that is.
I believe I’m right in saying that TNA switched their timeslot and went live within a matter of weeks, which has to have had an effect on their ratings. There’s also been a hell of a lot of competition in the ratings, like the Stanley Cup and the Olympics, and the NFL’s about to start again in a couple of weeks, so they’ve all had an impact (no pun intended) on TNA’s ratings.
Watching Impact live has a completely different feel compared to when it’s been taped 3 weeks before. The wrestlers seem to thrive on it and for the most part, so do the fans watching at home. The only problem is that sometimes, the crowd in the Impact Zone could be a little more into it, but that’s what happens when you’re using a soundstage in a theme park.
I think that if both TNA and Spike are patient with the product, the ratings will increase and eventually, I can see them overtaking Smackdown as the #2 watched wrestling show in America.
5 – Run with Austin Aries as champion for the foreseeable future
I can put my hand on my heart and say that in the last 4/5 years, only 3 things have surprised me in wrestling and they’ve all happened over the last year or so.
The first was CM Punk walking out of Money in the Bank in Chicago last year as WWE Champion. The second was Daniel Bryan SUCCESSFULLY cashing in his MiTB briefcase at last December’s TLC PPV to become WWE World Champion.The third, and so far last, thing that genuinely surprised me came at this year’s Destination X PPV, where Austin Aries became the TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
I don’t mean surprised in the sense that Aries isn’t good enough to be world champion, but surprised that TNA seem to have deviated from their long-term plan to have James Storm face Bobby Roode for the TNA World Championship at Bound for Glory. In the past, I’ve given TNA a lot of shit for not listening to their fans. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but they deserve a hell of a lot of credit for listening when it came to A-Double and his rise to glory.
The Impact Zone wanted Aries as champion and whether or not TNA had doubts, they gave Aries the belt. Go back and watch the Aries/Roode match at Destination X. When Aries gets the pin, the Impact Zone goes apeshit and popped huge for the title switch! That’s what wrestling is supposed to be about. The belief that anything can happen at any time.
As great as Bobby Roode was as World Champion, carrying the belt for several months, I think he needed a break from it and Aries came along with a ton of momentum at the right time, so TNA went with him. Now that Aries has the belt, it’s really important that he’s given the opportunity to have a decent run.
Looking at the BFG standings, Storm, Samoa Joe, Angle, Bully Ray and even AJ Styles are all potential opponents for Aries at Bound for Glory. To be honest, you can’t even count out Bobby Roode at this stage. Aries can have, and has had, great matches with some of those guys, but I literally can’t wait to see Aries vs Angle or Aries vs Styles. As Joey Styles would say “OH MY GOD!”
Simply put, Austin Aries is the best thing about TNA right now and if he’s booked properly, he could be the focal point for TNA’s growth over the next 12-18 months. Just another great accomplishment for the greatest man that ever lived. A-Double. Austin Aries.
Well guys, there’s five things that I’d change to give TNA a better chance of getting to the next level. I’ve probably not covered everything, so if there’s anything you could change in TNA to help them to get better, what would you do? Hit me up on Twitter @georgec1982 or leave a comment below and I’ll put some of them in my next column about TNA in a couple of weeks.
Until the next time I come at ya ‘From Across The Pond’, here’s hoping you all stay classy and have a great week!
Thanks for reading,