We are a little over a month away from the final episode of IMPACT Wrestling scheduled for the year. I believe there are about five to seven episodes left to air. With Bound For Glory being booked the way it is and with the remaining episodes at the end of the year being "Best of/Recap" shows, my enjoyment of the product will be relegated to these final episodes (all of which have been taped already).
I fully expect myself to become disengaged from the TNA product after these shows have aired. "Best of" shows are good when used sparingly (such as over the holidays) but having nearly a month and a half of them is a bit too much for me.
The talk right now if that TNA is in negotiations with a number of networks and that the company fully expects to have a new deal by the new year. The leading name I hear right now is WGN America. Now, I don't know how much they would be paying TNA, the timeslot or the length of shows that TNA would have but having a spot on TV is always good. Beyond that, I don't know what the TNA product will look like.
For the sake of this column, let's say TNA lands on WGN America and gets most of what they were getting from Spike. Where does this put them in 2015 and beyond?
On TNA's website, they are labeling Genesis, Sacrifice, Slammiversary and Bound For Glory as their "tent-pole" events along with their ONO shows. The major show that is notably absent is Lockdown. Lockdown has always been a major PPV of TNA and in the past has been the most viewed show for many years. Genesis and Sacrifice on the other hand haven't meant as much recently. While I am fine with keeping four cornerstone PPVs, I truly believe Lockdown should be one of them.
I would find it hard to buy into Bound For Glory being labeled the biggest show of the year after this year. The wisest move would be to make Slammiversary the big show. It has meaning behind with it being TNA's anniversary PPV. Especially with TNA going through some scary times recently, hitting that anniversary is an important time for TNA fans. The gold scheme also makes it look like a bigger show than anything else TNA has to offer.
If TNA were my promotion, I would make it exclusively a TV product. What this means is that all of the product would air on free TV. TNA already has their two hour IMPACT show. Live Events have been a mess recently. The PPV business has been dying for TNA. With WWE Network starting up, it is difficult to convince fans to put out 40$ for a PPV when they are getting a WWE one for 10$.
In a great scenario, TNA would get IMPACT every week on Wednesdays. They could air their TV specials on Wednesdays (Destination X, Hardcore Justice etc.) like they have in place of IMPACT. It would be great if they could negotiate with a TV network to get 3-hour special events on a Saturday or Sunday. Imagine TNA having 52 weeks of IMPACT and then four special events (Genesis, Lockdown, Slammiversary and Bound For Glory) on a Sunday in January, March, June and October.
While it would be great to also get Xplosion in the United States as well as the One Night Only shows (like it is in the UK), those expectations may be too high.
Right now, I feel the best approach is to scale back and become a TV company only. Allow the wrestlers to work for independent promotions when they aren't working for you. You may risk injuries or other consequences from this but I feel this would be the most logical approach at this point. It saves TNA money and allows them to remain a national TV company.
As for taping these shows, it looks like the company really figured this out this year by tapings months ahead and saving money. While the recent Bethlehem shows looked to be a poor choice, taping in New York City was in fact a good one. Maybe have two dates per month for four shows would be a good idea. You can get four or five shows out of two dates. Also, taping not so far in advance would allow the company to shift its direction (if need be).
One thing TNA really needs to be observant of is the expiring contracts within the next few months. The contracts of Gail Kim, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries and The Wolves are rumored to be expiring. On top of Bully Ray and Kurt Angle (which have already expired) and Jeff Hardy and Bobby Roode (expiring in 2015), TNA has a lot of work on their hands. Losing these names would gut the promotion. I am hoping they can get this thing worked out with these names.
A Thousand Thoughts:
-I have been trying to figure out the next episode in my Versus series. I have come to the realization that I could run a new "Collision Course" WWE vs TNA special every six months. The reason for this is that both product's rosters and storylines are constantly changing. If you wait too long, the opportunities for dream matches between the two rosters are gone. You will likely see a new Collision Course special very soon.
-While I was critical of the Gold Rush tournament, when looking back I felt the show had a very uniform look. Some of the matches could be better but I like the idea of having it as an annual concept. TNA doesn't have many themed shows as part of IMPACT so I like having them bring new ones in every so often. The show was pretty straight-forward if you ask me.
-With the "Summer in the City" being over, I can confidently label the New York shows as some of TNA's consistently best shows in their history. While I felt storyline-advancement struggled a bit, the quality of wrestling was out of this world. The New York crowd brought a new energy to the product. Think of all the great matches and moments we got out of these shows. The Tag Title Series, Dixie Carter going through a table, the returns of Low Ki/Homicide/Tajiri/Great Muta/Snitsky etc. Lashley had many great title defenses. The X Division was re-ignited. We saw a number of excellent Knockouts Division matches. There was so much to love out of these shows.
While I have my gripes with elements of the current product, I would say that these shows should be the blueprint of what TNA should aim to be in the future. Have the focus on in-ring action. Focus on keeping your four championships mean something. Constantly build your stars. Give your fans moments to remember.
-I'm excited to announce that the 2014 Year-End Awards will once again take place on December 30th and 31st. This is one of my favorite things about the year; recognizing the best of TNA. All I can say is that MVP of TNA, Most Memorable Moment and Match of the Year are returning.
-Some thoughts from this weeks IMPACT:
Aries vs Samoa Joe was a very good match. This match also showed me why production is important. While TNA is no WWE, their production has always been a step above the rest. For some reason, this match was dimly lit and looked very indie. I felt it took away from the quality of wrestling that these two were putting out.
EC3 is such a good heel now. Spud was a good heel but he is also a very good sympathetic figure. I am interested to see how TNA levels the playing field between Spud and EC3 if they go on to feud.
Loved seeing the Knockouts Main Event IMPACT this week. Theoretically, TNA could have just done the attack angle on IMPACT and saved the championship match for BFG however that is neither here nor there.
I'm liking Manik's new arsenal and look. He has a more meticulous style much like Sanada now does. James Storm has reinvented both men.
The announcement of the tag title series was probably the highlight of the show. I like that there is now an edge in this rivalry. This is another thing that could have ended at BFG and stolen the show. Edwards handled his own here. BTW, I like the Hardy's theme.