The big news today is that “Impact Wrestling” has officially found a new home on the Destination America network. After over nine years on SpikeTV, the show will be moving to a much smaller network which reaches about 40,000,000 fewer homes. The common response, and the one I agree with, is that this is a far worse thing than good. However, there are a few things for TNA and its fans to be happy about over this. Today we’re going to look at the good that comes from the deal and how TNA can use this new deal to help themselves going forward.
Let’s get the big one out of the way first: the show is going to be on the air for two more years. You can even cut off the last part of that sentence and just go with “the show is going to be on the air.” For months now, that has been hanging over TNA’s head higher than anything else. By now confirming the fact that they will have a home in 2015 and beyond. That lets them switch focus to more on screen issues and rebuilding the company.
The next big thing isn’t so much a guarantee but rather an opportunity: a change to rebrand themselves and change their image. To me, one of the biggest things that has been holding TNA back for years has been the preconceived notions that fans hold about them. No matter what the product actually is, the fans see the letters TNA and automatically think of Vince Russo and Dixie Carter and the old guys stealing the spotlight and holding all the young talent down.
While the move to the new network isn’t going to change that overnight, it offers TNA a chance to make fans think they’re in for something new. Maybe they change the logo, maybe they change the look, maybe they even change the name itself, but a change of scenery could do TNA some good. Tell the fans that they’re not the same old TNA and maybe some of those fans might give you another chance.
That brings us to the biggest point of them all: TNA can’t keep doing the same things that got them into trouble in the first place. There can’t be anymore pushing all the old guard at the expense of the new talent or having Dixie Carter out there all the time or running storylines that go six months beyond their expiration date before even starting to wrap up and then go on another four months.
No, instead TNA needs to start picking up the pace a little bit. Stop doing things that get on the fans’ nerves and start giving them something that the masses might want to see. This would include dropping a lot of the hardcore stuff. Having Bram out there is one thing, but look at who he’s out there against. Earlier tonight on “Impact Wrestling”, Bram defeated Tommy Dreamer, with help from his friend Magnus. Near the end of the match, Al Snow ran out to help Dreamer. This is just after Dreamer beat up D-Von in another hardcore match.
How does having those people around help TNA? Does it bring in some nostalgic fans? Well maybe, but do you really want to court them at the risk of annoying fans that don’t care for hardcore or ECW? Earlier tonight, Dreamer vs. Bram ran nearly fifteen minutes and was the longest match of the night. This was a featured match on an episode with two new champions crowned, one of which was treated like a feel good moment.
If there’s a new viewer tuning in on Destination America and seeing a guy in his mid 40s who is overweight and mostly out of shape whose heyday was at least fifteen years ago, how many of them do you think are going to stick around? By comparison, how many are likely to see someone in their mid to late 20s, in great shape and putting on an athletic match or cutting an interesting promo? Nostalgia is one thing, but having it take up that much time isn’t going to work long term and shouldn’t be something you try for a new beginning.
Finally, TNA needs to understand their place now. When they had two hours in prime time on national TV, they were the clear #2 wrestling promotion in the USA. Once they lost that TV deal though, they’re little more than a glorified indy promotion. They may still be #2, but the days of trying to compete with WWE are over. Now TNA needs to worry about staying ahead of companies like Ring of Honor.
Again, this might be the kind of change that TNA needs. Instead of chasing a company that they have almost no chance of ever catching, now they have competition from companies that are more on their level. Fans often talk about the Monday Night Wars drawing out the best from both companies. Now with TNA closer to the level of the rest of the independent companies, perhaps they’ll present some new ideas and take a big step forward creatively.
Overall, the move to Destination America is a big blow for the company. It takes away a good chunk of TNA’s potential audience and is likely going to cause them to lose a lot of money. However, it also presents a series of possibilities and hope for the company that might allow them to grow in a different direction, assuming they don’t make a lot of the same mistakes they’ve made in the past.
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