Monday, March 09, 2015

Stand Up and Be Heard

By Dustin T. Hull

We are part of a community that is extremely vocal about our likes and our dislikes. Not everyone will agree with all opinions, but that is not the point right now. The point is that there are few moments where a company takes to social media and willingly opens Pandora’s Box for your honest feedback. The last time I remember TNA doing this, we had the debacle of #AskDixie in which we as a community made ourselves look like the immature beings we are stereotyped to be. Right now, we have the chance to change that preconceived notion with this #StandUp movement on Twitter.

First things first, this is a brilliant way to introduce the Drew Galloway character. It capitalizes upon his amazing promo when he returned to the ICW promotion he considered home. I see a lot of people make the automatic comparison to CM Punk with his debut promo in TNA, but I don’t get it. He claimed to be the voice for the Pro Wrestling fan but that is where the comparison should end.

Punk never gave a fan in the audience a chance to use a company microphone. Punk never was given the chance to take over the social media network outlets of a company. Galloway's desire is to bring wrestling as the focal piece of TNA while Punk’s goal was to express that WWE was blind to not acknowledge his talent. Essentially, one is a straight babyface while the other was an anti-hero. Personally, I want to give credit to this being the way to debut Drew; it’s creative and very enjoyable.

With that being said, we are currently two days into the #StandUp movement. The majority of tweets I read are asking for more focus on the X-Division, Tag Division, and Knockouts. There are a few other random stragglers such as the return of more Pay-Per-Views, the desire for a Hardcore Title, and an entire Europe tour. These are interesting requests, but if you really want me to #StandUp Impact Wrestling, here are a few things I have to say.

Creative Writing for All Characters

First things first, I want a more creative product. I touched on this in a recent article and it is one of the first issues that should be addressed. There should be reasoning for Jessie Godderz and DJZ as much as for Robbie E with this Brooke storyline. A 60 second vignette will go a LONG way by simply allowing subtle dialog with all four members of the BroMans. A backstage interview with Gunner the week before Kurt slapped him might make me give a damn when he joins Team Angle. If the issue is time for the Impact Wrestling program, I have a solution for that.

Utilize the Time You Have Been Given

The Unlocked concept is great: a show with additional pop up content, interviews, and even Tenay’s personal rankings. As a lead-in on Fridays, it’s a good reminder of what to expect. However, it does NOT need to be an entire recap of the whole show we’ve already seen with little additional info. Cut an hour from that show and build a new one hour show with new content. Oh, you wonder what kind of new show to do? I’ve got an answer for that.

You build a show (my corny beta test name is “Impact Invitational”) as an 8 week tournament in which 8 wrestlers are going for a title shot in the future. The biggest assumption on my part is that Unlocked is ideal because it’s using recycled footage weekly as a cost cutting measure. This show will help with that. The show will focus on a single match for the tournament.

So for the sake of argument, let’s say Gunner will face Magnus. Breaking this down into 10 minute segments, the first segment will be a retrospective of Gunner in TNA. We can see his time from Gunner and Murphy, through his time with the TV Title, to his time in the James Storm feud. The second segment will do the same for Magnus: his solo debut, to the British Invasion, to his WHC run. You can add in match highlights and have Tenay walk us through step by step.

The third segment will be a sit-down interview with Tenay for Gunner while the forth segment will be the same for Magnus. Tenay can talk to Gunner about how he got into the business. He can ask Magnus what a win in this tournament would mean for his family. This is all building up for the final two segments, which are for the tournament match.

The first 6 weeks will be tournament matches, The 7th week will be Tenay covering a recap of the entire tournament up to this point (including content from the interviews that are noteworthy), and the 8th week is the final. At this point, you can take a guy you’re looking to push in the next set of tapings and have REASON for them getting focus. The beauty is that once this tournament finishes, you can switch divisions. Ultimately, though, it gives me reason to watch something new rather than an entire episode recap in the current version of Unlocked, plus it gives a platform for any character building segments that they might not be able to accomplish on the Impact Wrestling show.

Utilize the Pay Per Appearance Concept

One of the reasons why TNA was so successful is usually credited to the X Division; I completely agree. My question, though, is why? Many will point to the fast paced, high flying style but there is also something else that made me fall in love with the X Division – it was where you could see the potential stars of the future today. I remember seeing guys like Matt Sydal, CM Punk, and even Austin Starr on Impact shows in the 2000s. TNA had this “open door” type feel in which we would see indy wrestlers facing off with talent they were pushing.

I think it’s smart to give these indy guys a dark match tryout, but after that, you can use these guys for a quick win. A good example to me would be when Spud goes into the X-Division. Bringing in a Johnny Gargano for a PPA match to give Spud a win is a positive for all members involved. Spud gains stock, TNA gets a solid look at a potential future talent, and Gargano gets some good exposure.

The general consensus on Twitter seems to be that we want more focus on the X-Division, Knockouts, and Tag Division. As I said, I completely agree with this, but there are other things I feel TNA need to change besides the obvious. Things like theme music feeling less generic, creating better merchandise (admittedly, they are doing less Affliction style stuff so that’s a bonus), making the One Night Only concept fit into the current storylines, less split screens of Taz and Josh Mathews during the show, the return of original concepts (BFG Series or GutCheck)… There’s a LOT of stuff we can touch on with this #StandUp movement, guys. Time is running out, so go out there and let your voice be heard… Or quit complaining about it on forums.