TNA looking for a “pop” on PopTV

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TNA Impact Wrestling as of January 5th will be moving to a new television network. POP TV will now broadcast the episodes for wrestling. However, let’s take a look and profile TNA Wrestling.

The pro’s is that TNA will survive and get out of their deal with DA, Destination America. Pop TV is more viable and widely available in 20 million plus more homes, as opposed to Destination America. However, just because it’s available- it does not mean that more fans will watch the show. At the end of the day, television is a business and makes its money from viewership and ratings (and not by DVR standards).

What will “pop” for TNA? What can bring a better rating to the show? What as fans can we expect regarding content, and what’s “different” versus what we’ve seen (and concepts that failed, for that matter). For starters, it all begins and ends with creative and what is produced, and what is coming across on television. In lay terms, Impact needs stability regarding creative teams, and how it is produced, written. It needs to be a more creatively compelling product.

I am a wrestling fan, and am ecstatic for TNA. As performers, it means more credibility and a network to broadcast, and not just be “contractually obligated” to air the show. It means TNA is a home where wrestlers can work and ply their trade, if so desired. What will TNA do to market their new show? What kind of new ads and sponsors will generate revenue for the show?

I am happy for Impact Wrestling because it gives the fans more wrestling to watch, and a style/format that gives a different flavor, an alternative to the WWE, WWE Network that is broadcasted on TV. However, TNA needs to be “live” and also current with their product they are producing. They can’t have a match or storyline develop one week, and then while the show is taped- a superstar jumps has jumped ship or declines a contract. Talent raids and especially of the “backbone” of TNA, originals and marquee talent has hurt the company. Hopefully they can rebound, and also re-create similar intangibles in their wrestlers, and get them over. More importantly, they need to make new stars, move on from the losses and get the new talent (and whom is also on the roster already) over with the fans.

As for the declining contracts and free agents who have yet to sign means there is something (management, and or creative related) which is not enticing people to stay. It starts with money, and the creative material the talent is given. It is not a knock against the talent, or that they are bad talent. But, the production and talent raids can lead to bad wrestling, declining ratings and a morale which makes people (and fans) want to give up on the company.

I give credit that TNA has stuck around, but they must hit a home-run this time, and also stay on this network. This is as opposed to Pop using them perhaps as sample, a tester to see what ratings wrestling can get- or perhaps a rival product/company to then air on Pop. My analogy is eerily reminiscent of ECW 2001 and their Viacom TNN deal; as WWE went on TNN in 2000 off of USA Network. The fear is that TNA, and based on their track record are ending up bouncing around because of low ratings, interest and the like. This is a company that was started in 2002 and on weekly pay per views, and had lean financial times in the past. I do hope, they will re-find and re-energize the formulas that made them successful, and different in order to stand out. Let’s hope that the proverbial rope and leniency for TNA is given to them by Pop TV, given their network history- and those ratings in wrestling go up and down like a brick, and not as cyclical as surmised.

TNA needs to win fans over, and win some back as well- and the ratings will come, and in a gradual manner. Pop needs to be patient and understand the nature that is behind Pro-Wrestling. I also hope that TNA doesn’t have to pay for their own management rights in order to air their product- otherwise, if they do, how does paying for air-time affect their budget and payroll?

What can TNA do to regain their spot as a solid alternative, while keeping ratings at a pace, and level that makes the network happy- AND keeps their fans tuning in? What kind of new talent or concepts, or stories will they employ to ensure its NOT just “wrestlers in a ring”- and have marquee talent appear on the show (that fans WANT and will continue to see?)

However, with the rise of competition (NXT) and other promotions hurt TNA because of talent raids, and for having more resources to better promote, produce their respective shows. Impact Wrestling needs to clearly define a face for their company, and keep contracted wrestlers on their show. Make the wrestler’s must see, and can only be found in TNA. Having outside venues like MMA for Lashley, and other promotions who share TNA talent dilutes TNA, and their appeal. Hopefully, with a bigger, stronger budget means they can afford more talent, and not share, or rely on “non-exclusive talent.” If I can see Galloway in say, Global Force, and Magnus back in England, and Bobby Roode in another promotion- how can I buy into, and believe in them, and their progress, their stories, and history in TNA?

Also, due to many creative changes throughout the tenure of TNA; who will provide stability creatively and for the numbers? TNA brought in Bischoff and Hogan in 2010, and they were hampered by what they could do, and perhaps the talent didn’t share, or execute the same vision Bischoff and Hogan had. Arguably, Dutch Mantel and Jim Cornette had successful reigns at the helm, but due to undermining and differences; both are no longer with the company. Dutch is now as we know, in WWE as Zeb Colter with Alberto Del Rio. Arguably, TNA has brought in Billy Corgan. I am intrigued to see what moves, and layouts regarding a show; the ideas he’d suggest and execute (if he had carte blanche). I’m also surprised the head of creative is also a talent relations individual by the name of John Gaburick. In my view respectively, you can’t serve too many masters; and one job of Gaburick’s may interfere, or take away from the other. I don’t deny his results, knack or ability to manage talent and contracts. But he too, is only one person. How much is too much, and spreading oneself too thin?

Stripping away the history and all other factors; one question remains: How many fans and households will view TNA, even on a new network? Something in the past disenchanted them before, and what will bring them back, if anything? TNA must be able to bring over either: new fans or returning fans to watch and be loyal to their product. They also need to take away fans of those who follow any of the three WWE brands, in order to see what their product (and ratings are doing). Sampling the product or just DVR-ing an episode of Impact does not maintain a steady fan base. It gives an inaccurate reading.

Also, to take into account- (and playing Devil’s Advocate) regarding Pop Network- does wrestling fit into their parameters? On their network, and based on the shows they air, and the demographics they appeal to- will it include wrestling? I hope it will not become another TNT, TBS and not WANT wrestling anymore in the future, if things go south. What is the proverbial safety net for both sides, and can they recover, if things begin to decline?

Can fans of Pop TV, the loyalists who watch the network be intrigued, or turned off by “rasslin” on Pop TV? Who does TNA market and appeal to, regarding direction? Regarding a venue (and hopefully they’ve learned from this in the past) Being at Universal Studios, is a misguided attempt at an audience, although it’s a short term fix. Bischoff and WCW started that way, and then evolved, and then found other venues. Now, in 2010, the times and fan’s tastes have changed. Universal Studios, a la Disney is an attraction, but also a theme park. The theme park gives an inaccurate reading, regarding the audience following and productivity. Fans at a theme park come to see an attraction, and be entertained. It does not mean they are pro wrestling fans, or wholeheartedly follow a wrestling product. So, TNA has to be careful in how, what and who they use as a caliber/measuring stick to gain their audience.

It goes beyond just the 6-side ring, and original concepts. It’s the wishy-washy storylines, or things visually that either, don’t make sense or don’t connect to the audience. Pop TV and TNA have to look at who they are appealing to, and try to write (and “right”) the ship for that audience. Mainstream wrestling fans like the intrigue, the drama, the stories and the interaction. Hardcore, die-hard classic fans appreciate more of the in-ring product. However, these concepts and two ideologies are very different, but must be successfully married in order to cater to a large audience. Sadly, great matches are having their place on the show (like a Pay per view), but do not draw as high a rating as it should, or used to for that matter. Storyline consistency, of better writing and better execution to make a show better is important. This is as opposed to willy-nilly heel turns, or alter-ego that is hokey. Perhaps TNA will return to a limited PPV schedule, or create their own Video on Demand, to keep the lineage, history and “link” shows together. Having PPV quality matches on TV as “hot-shotting” did not work for TNA. Reason being, is that the ratings did not rise, and did not become more solid in a positive way. If ratings and the product were better, then they’d still be on Spike TV, or Destination America- and they aren’t.

People want content, stories, and like a wrestling soap opera- what will leave the cliff-hanger ending, but want the fans, wanting more? TNA needs (Creatively) a hook; and something for episodic TV that is logical, as well as with sophisticated thought. Wrestling fans are sophisticated, plus the smart marks, plus the dirt-sheets and internet which are tools that make wrestling harder to write, because spoilers ruin the surprise and the appeal of having “unpredictability” in a show. Fans of all types want a superstar, a face of the company who they can relate to, and a individual (or group of) who are narrow-focused on “standing out” and being stars, with mainstream cross-over appeal. The wrestlers must have an intimate connection to the fans- whether it’s a move (like The People’s elbow), charisma (for personality), a catchphrase and merchandise which creates revenue. Someone with flair, someone who will stand out is what TNA needs.

Fans in TNA’s case want a balance of a good wrestler, but also a persona, a character, a performer. They want and need stories that will be compelling, and thought-provoking as a balance to compliment what is in the ring. Video vignettes, segments, angles that spark stories, or a feud is what is needed for TNA. What better way to “pop” and start anew, than on Pop TV? What’s needed in TNA are characters and performers with clearer roles. Fans need to know, and logically to get behind these performers. Ethan Carter is the best homegrown talent (save for his WWE run.) TNA “rebuilt” Derrick Bateman, and made him a character. Carter got over, and respectively got the push he deserved. He has intangibles that are relatable to fans. He interacts with the audience, and his persona is character-orientated, with good promo and mic skills. Eric Young is a TNA Original and suffered with Super Eric at one point. Then, he was pushed as a diet-lite brand version of the WWE’s Daniel Bryan. But Young has re-branded himself as the World Class Maniac. TNA does not need to have “knee jerk” reactions to stories or concepts, or by copying them, or re-duplicating. Staying the course and being different is what is successful, as opposed to out-maneuvering. Bad writing regimes that added more to the payroll, but did not provide a bigger number also stunted the growth for TNA, like it did in 2010.

On a seldom discussed topic: let’s hope the ads and promotional tools that TNA will employ will also be broadcasted and hyped throughout the week, and not like ECW in 2001. TNA does not need press releases and advertisements all of which were playing DURING the Impact airing. The old adage is: We are doomed to repeat history and mistakes, if we don’t learn from them initially. Yes, times have changed, but so has the audience sizes who watch wrestling- even the diehards. Wrestling as a whole, and regarding ratings has changed. However, with new media and new technology, will hopefully entice fans and give more avenues to see TNA and other wrestling products if desired. It all centers on the ratings, and of which after a while, had declined on each network. What will change, what will be different for TNA this time around? Furthermore, what can they do, to keep a steady rating and their new network content, and happy with the progress?

In closing, TNA needs to make a bang, and make the debut show different than what has been broadcasted. TNA needs a fresh start, and start over so to speak- outside of their AWA Team Challenge tournament, a la 2015. Hopefully, TNA will get the “pop” they need, and make ground on Pop TV.

Author: KyleBowman

I am a wrestling fan and self published author. I've penned 6 different wrestling books online. I enjoyed WCW and the Monday Night Wars in 1997 along with the Golden and Attitude Era's. Other links to some of my wrestling books can be found: