One Night Only: Joker's Wild- Airing All May The first round of this special will create some intriguing tag team matches. For one night only, old partners will reunite and bitter enemies must work together in order to advance. Once in the finals, however, any friendships or forged alliances will quickly disappear as the wrestlers will compete in a winner-take-all gauntlet battle royal. It’s every man for himself and the winner will receive $100,000!!!
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Changing the Formula | Part 2
One big change I would make to create more buzz about a feud and increase PPV buys is the build to the match. The approach to the build of a big match would be partly influenced by the build to a fight in MMA.
Firstly, I would make sure that on at least the first two Impact shows after a PPV the majority of the card for the next PPV is announced so the fans know what to look forward to next. The fans would be more invested into segments featuring the participants of the next PPV because they know why it’s happening and that there will be a payoff. I would have on the GM announce the main event of the next PPV on the first Impact after the previous PPV and bring out the stars involved to either cut promos on the match or simply have a face-off to begin the build to their match.
Over the next few weeks, I would show video packages of the participants in training, with them talking over the footage about the upcoming match with either self-promotion or trash talking depending on the specific wrestler and his opponent. I would accompany the training video's with either a live match on Impact or highlights of a match from a house show for both participants that would be classified as an “exhibition match,” which would be wrestling's equivalent to a sparring session to test the athletes and point out their strengths & weaknesses that they can work on before the big match. Then on the final Impact before the match, after weeks of build, I would promote a face-off between the wrestlers just days before the event.
I would emphasize the fact that it's the first time they have been in the same building together since the match announcement to attempt to get more people to tune in to see what happens between them after the weeks of hype. This would also be the final sell to give the match one last push before it goes down. This is a change I would be most confident about making. Why? Because of what history tells us. Parts of the formula above have only been used once before in TNA for the Kurt Angle/Samoa Joe World Title match at Lockdown 2008. The type of hype formula resulted in TNA's highest attended event and highest PPV buyrate in their six-year history. I think the results speak for themselves.
Because of the hype formula above, I wouldn't have many top stars wrestle on Impact on a weekly basis. I would have my top stars who are involved in a PPV match follow the hype formula above. I would then use the remaining top stars that aren't involved in the title picture wrestle in main event matches on Impact against one another to attempt to gain and then use a victory as a reason to be next in line for a top contender’s spot following the PPV.
All of this would be done to make matches more important, make them a big deal once again so that fans are willing to pay for a PPV as well as hook the audience to tune in on the rare occasions when a big match takes place on free TV. This would be the complete opposite of the current landscape where fans aren't given a reason to care about top matches because they are on free TV almost every week and in the casual fan’s eye, just blend in with everything else on the show.
If TNA are to keep their 12 PPV per year going forward, every event would be headlined by a #1 contender's match and a World Title match. Now, if TNA wanted to give someone a long title reign that spans at least over 6 months and had them in the main event of a PPV every month that followed my proposed hype formula, there is only so many times you can show hype/training videos for the same person before it gets repetitive and loses the intrigue it once had. Therefore, there would have to be another championship that would have to be able to take the place of the World Title on a bi-monthly basis.
Instead of adding a new championship, I would look at the titles and their divisions already in TNA to elevate to main event status. Right off the bat, both the X Division and TV titles are out of contention. It has nothing to do with the current state of the division but because both belts have been established as stepping stones to the World Title and don’t have much of a difference to the top belt. This leaves us with the Knockouts Title and the World Tag Team Titles (not counting the KO Tag Team Titles for obvious reasons). Both championships are different to the World Title and have the same amount of meaning to their division’s contenders. They symbolize that they are either the best male, female or tag team in the company. If it were up to me, I would need another division on par with the heavyweight division straight away, and the division that would be ready to go would be the tag team division.
In 2012 we have seen tag team title matches attempt to claim the match of the night on several occasions, and in some cases they have surpassed the World Title match. If I recall, the tag team division is the only division that has produced many high quality matches/feuds and succeeded in the main event spot on both TV and PPV. In my opinion, the tag division is the only division that could be elevated to main event status, and the fans would accept and invest into it as much as they have the heavyweight division.
By having the tag division at the same level as the heavyweight division, it gives TNA the opportunity to rotate which division has a title match on the PPV. It would also create a great reason why PPVs like Bound For Glory, Slammiversay and Lockdown are bigger than the rest because TNA can book both a World Title match and a Tag Team Title match on the same show to give them a bigger feel and make them stand out from the rest.
As for the rest of the titles, I would use the same formula I have listed above but they would be lower on the card and wouldn't be positioned as the hook for shows. In the case of the Knockouts Title, if the fans are willing to tune in and pay to see the women at a main event level, then I would go ahead and elevate them, which would create another hook for the fans to invest in. As for the X Division and TV titles, unless they were given a clear definition that set them apart from the World Title, I would keep them low on the card as feeder divisions to the heavyweight division.
My final change is something that I think is a must. Wrestlers should focus more on their characters instead of whether they are playing heel or face. We’ve seen it for a few years now, the modern day wrestling fan isn’t going to let a promotion dictate who they cheer and boo. They’re going to decide for themselves who they like and who they don't like. We saw it this past Sunday at Bound For Glory. Austin Aries went into the show as the man who kicked TNA's biggest face in the nuts and then dropped him on his head. You would think the fans would boo the hell out of Aries, but nope, the crowd was in fact pro-Aries for most of the night and then 50/50 for him and Hardy halfway through their match. This highlights that you can't tell the fans who to like and who to dislike.
If I were able to, I'd tell the superstars to focus on who they are rather than what they are. We've seen too many wrestlers turn and in the process, lose what made them successful and who they are (e.g. CM Punk and Mr Anderson) instead letting them develop their characters and find what suits them best. Another factor is that wrestler’s opponent, so instead of trying to establish who the fans should cheer and boo, let them be who they are. Then when it comes to crunch time and they are facing off in the ring, let the fans cheer for who they want. After all, they say the customer knows best.
I'm not saying that everything I suggested would work, but in my opinion these are changes that I'd like to see. I think these changes could help the industry a lot. I know one thing is for sure, the current formula doesn't work like it used to. The wrestling business needs to change it to attempt to be the industry it once was, whether it be the changes I think should be made or the changes you think should be made. Regardless, something needs to happen if the wrestling business we love wants to reach its previous level again.
Posted By JSO
Changing the Formula | Part 2