October 1, 2007
This Thursday (October 4th) at 9 pm on Spike TV, TNA’s Impact goes to 2-hours. The 2-hour show on Spike is TNA’s latest “Holy Grail”. Since TNA’s inception 5 years ago they have constantly being chasing that elusive “Holy Grail”, the answer to all of their promotional woes, that one missing factor to their inevitable success.
When they first started, TNA was but a weekly PPV product, which failed to garner enough PPV buys to be successful. At that point the answer to their troubles was a weekly TV show to promote monthly PPVs. If only they could achieve that they would be a success. Well they did achieve that and TNA continued to struggle. It was then decided the problem was they needed national TV exposure, if they could just get on a national network all their problems would be solved. Well guess what? They went national on Spike TV and little if anything changed. They continued to struggle on PPV despite achieving their latest “Holy Grail”.
Never one to admit defeat TNA blamed their continued troubles on Impact needing to be in prime time. WWE after all was in prime time; that would make the difference; it certainly couldn’t be the fault of the product, that few people ordered TNA PPVs. So Impact went prime time, moving to 9 pm Thursday nights, the very night WWE’s SmackDown used to air. SmackDown was successful there certainly Impact would as well. TNA’s ratings and PPV buy rates remained relatively constant and the company continued to struggle in search of that missing element, that elusive “Holy Grail”.
Perhaps big name talent would be the answer. There was no way TNA could pull in big buy rates with a bunch of unknown, unproven stars. This was an interesting direction considering the only positive feedback the previous versions of TNA got were for the work rate of these very same unknown, unproven stars. But rather than admit the people in charge were to blame the talent pool got the snub and TNA went in search of big names stars to once and for all turn that corner of success and put TNA on the map.
TNA has since signed Sting, Kurt Angle, Christian, The Dudleys, Rhino, to name just a few of their new big name stars, and guess what? The only thing that went up drastically was their monthly pay roll. Now after more continued criticism the people at TNA have determined that the problem all along was that you just couldn’t build towards PPV properly with only 1-hour of TV per week. A 2-hour time slot was surely the final piece of the puzzle, that final be all and end all, “Holy Grail”.
This Thursday is it; the one we’ve all been waiting for; TNA will finally have everything they need. Impact becomes a 2-hour, national, primetime show, with tons of big name stars. This will be the one, the show will be fantastic, ratings and PPV buys rates will be on the rise and TNA will finally have their elusive success.
I know I’m sounding extremely sarcastic here and believe it or not I hope this is exactly what happens, but some how I doubt it. I’ve said many times that those who fail to observe and learn from history are doomed to repeat it and I believe that. I’ve learned from TNA’s history that each new step in the right direction generally amounts to very little. The problem has never been when the show airs, or on what network the show airs, or what time the show airs, or the star power on the show, the problem has always been the quality of the shows that airs.
Unless TNA can drastically improve the quality of Impact with the extra hour each week, nothing is going to change, and they are going to be in search of the next “Holy Grail”, which I can only guess will be a Live show since that is about the only possible thing left to blame failure on other than the obvious and real problem, management and creative.
So this piece doesn’t just turn into another rant I’m going to offer you some of the things I think are key to making Impact a success.
Mike Tenay and Don West are atrocious. West is worse than Tenay but both are currently very terrible and the worst part of the show in my opinion. First thing I would do was ban these guys from the production and booking meetings. They are constancy trying to explain everything to us like they are reading the production sheet and it sounds completely fake. When Judas Masias started on Impact they talked about this guy like they were reading a Hollywood character bio, instead of just being freaked out and scared. It wasn’t “Oh My God, look at those eyes” it was, “And note the eyes Don West, those blank eyes it’s like he has no soul, the eyes are the key to the soul and Masias seemly has none. Masias is evil personified Don, a souless demonic being.” With the extra hour take the time so that angles explain themselves so these two can stop reading the production sheets at us. If you have to explain angles this much your bookers are incompetent. (More on this later)
I would also not allow Tenay or West to talk about anything other than the segment they are currently in. If what is going on in the ring is not important enough to be talked about it should not be on the show. I know in 1 hour they were trying to sell 8 segments in 4 but now they have the 8. No more talking about other angles while guys are working in the ring, it ruins the match and sabotages their credibility. No more talking over and explaining guys promos WHILE they are cutting them!!!! If I can’t understand what the guy is saying in his promo he shouldn’t have a microphone in his hand.
Focus on and push the only unique element of your show. Give 2 or 4 (never 6-10) of these guys 8-10 minutes of match time EVERY show. These guys have been the saving grace of the company and never get the credit. They offer something WWE does not and need to be featured. Fresh and new is always better than old and stale!!!!!!! Isolate the X-division from everyone else and let them shine.
This has been the problem all along and in my opinion has done nothing but get worse as time passes. The show makes less and less sense each week, and my first choice would be fire everyone who has a hand in creating the current product. Barring that I would impose a few limitations on them at the very least. No more blending of angles. Pick your 3 top programs and focus on them and keep them sharp. The constant run ins and over lapping of angles to sell 2 or 3 angles in one segment has got to stop. They have 2-hours now take the time you need to sell each program properly.
We need clean finishes! No more than one (2 at the absolute most) run ins or DQs or screwy finishes per show. Pick who your top 1 or 2 guys are and protect them, everyone else can get beat now and again. Even Randy Couture has lost clean, and it seems people still believe in him.
Pick one person who is a respected sane person in the business (Scott D’Amore, Terry Taylor, hell I’d do it for free just for the good of the business) and bar them from production and booking meetings. Once the show is booked and written, let that person read through the show on his own, if he has to ask “why” more than once, rewrite the show, and hand it back to him. Repeat this process without ever trying to explain anything to him. The show needs to be self-explanatory. The only exception to this is if handing him next week’s show answers those “whys”.
Failing all of that I would hire Paul Heyman, make Heyman, Cornette, and Russo equal third partners on the creative team, put them in a closed room to book the shows and record and air those meetings. That would be more entertaining than any wrestling show I’ve EVER seen!
That’s my 2 cents,