Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rebuilding the Frontier: How to Make Impact Wrestling a Competitive Promotion

In the words of the legendary, Vladimir Kozlov, "I want competition," (Imagine it in a Russian tone where your not 100% what the last word was). Following this week's edition of, Raw, I have learned that the WWE product is not, "cool again," but at its stalest in months. What's worse? They gave us no reason to watch the WWE, with the ratings juggernaut, Monday Night Football, coming back next week. Essentially, unless WWE makes the next few weeks their most captivating in over a decade, they will be crushed in the ratings.

Why should we care about WWE? There is no good way to go about the CM Punk/Nash/Triple H saga, because there is no surprising outcome that could possibly happen. We've gone down every single possibility, and all are predictable and stale. The NWO reunion idea, especially makes me cringe. Honestly, if anyone wants to see the NWO in WWE or another power struggle angle, you are a hypocrite. If you complain about it in, TNA, but not, WWE, you are a hypocrite. Sorry to break it to anyone. Continuing on....

John Cena and Randy Orton are booked as unbeatable, killing the credibility of an entire roster due to this awful booking and the championships have no prestige as it is, anyways. Last night's main event, while, well wrestled, was a booking catastrophe. I don't care what the idea or purpose was for this match, it A. Killed the credibility of four guys and B. Wrecked the chances of Del Rio beating Cena clean at the PPV. We all know Del Rio will now be booked as a chickenshit heel, so why bother? The two biggest storylines in the company are stale and predictable.

Unbeatable since 2005
What's worse is the fact that we are succumbed to this stale and boring product, because the company in Orlando, iMPACT Wrestling, makes WWE look like a creative mastermind. Competition is what helps companies produce their very best product, and until there is good competition in the wrestling circuit, the product will NOT improve in ratings, will NOT step up to make entertaining television, and will NOT change anything that is going on in WWE.

Superstars will not be made, we will be stuck with Cena killing the credibility of every man that steps into the ring with him, and nothing truly entertaining will be coming out of this. Some may say that this is the first time, WWE has been stale since prior to MITB, and they are right....but why the Hell, should I waste my time watching a less than stellar product? Sure, I expect there to be bad nights, but not horribly booked television in the two mainstream promotions on a consistent basis. Giving WWE credit, they do always book one great story per year, but that's it. They can never produce interesting and enriching tv for more than three months out of the calender year....of course, excluding, WrestleMania build up.

Competition is something that has helped wrestling grow and become "cool" from the 1980s to the late, 1990s. As a result, we were given some of the most iconic stars in wrestling history, who were booked well. (Heads up, this will be an editorial at a later date). Nonetheless, today, I have decided to explain of how I feel competition could be built up once again in the year, 2011. Will this happen? Probably not, but I always like writing of a hypothetical situation, once in a while. The topic is, rebuilding, iMPACT Wrestling. Again, will it happen? Likely not, they'll probably fold as a company by 2014. Either way, I am going to express my ideas and what I would do if I was at the helm of this promotion, to once again build a promotion. Do not look at this as a, "This is what they are going to do" type of piece, rather, a more fun editorial on how to make wrestling cool again, in a promotion not named, WWE.

Before truly going into the topic, I am not a fan of the iMPACT product; never have been, never will be. It's just a product that only a completely oblivious person would enjoy. If you are truly a wrestling fan, you already know everything wrong with it, so I am not going to give a point by point examination of why TNA sucks. That is self explanatory after watching an episode or two. Just wanted to get that out there....before I truly examine how to rectify a dead and beaten promotion.

What exactly does Sting have to offer?
First, off, I'd like to go straight off the bat and take a look at the wrestling roster. In a company that is billed where, "Wrestling Matters," it could not be further from the truth. Each and every week we succumb to crappy wrestling. Sure, here and there, TNA throws a gem at us, but with a roster of their level, it should be on a consistent basis. Why is this not the case now? Young wrestlers are held back by limited veterans, who can not go in the ring anymore. Therefore, I would instantly fire, Scott Steiner, Devon, and Sting. Both of these men no longer bring anything truly of value in the ring or on the microphone....Well, Steiner still gives his legendary confusing promos, but it's outdated (satire, everyone). Sting, is the Icon of TNA, and with all due respect, he no longer brings anything together and would be let go. Devon? Let this guy go already, 3D is over.

As for those who mention, Hulk Hogan needing to be let go, I disagree. If played appropriately in a sparingly used on air person, what harm will he do? He would not be the center of any storyline, rather just an on air persona who made appearances here and there. As for Flair, the dude can go on the mic. Why can't he manage a young star who is having difficulties making it on their own? Forget the AJ Styles experiment, that was nothing. If they just let Flair talk and build up a young guy, it can do wonders. Keep him out of the ring and less involved, and he would be an asset. Of course, if both are having difficulties outside of the ring, they would have to go.

Continuing on with roster cuts, I would let go ten more roster spots, because it is simply overpopulated on that roster. I bid ado, Anarquia, Hernandez, Miss Tessmacher, Jackie, Eric Young, Jesse Neal, Shannon Moore, Magnus, and Mark Haskins. That's simply, trimming the fat of the roster. Cry all you want about some of the talented guys being let go, but they truly don't have what it takes to be used in a mainstream wrestling promotion, at least until they are seasoned. Eric Young is also a stale act, who I feel doesn't bring much to the table and Shannon Moore doesn't have anything but in ring ability. The rest are forgettable. This will not be the rest of the talent cuts, however.

Now, it would be time to go forth with a suggestion, my friend, Nick, suggested on Twitter. This would be, putting the show on hiatus from television. Take three or so months off during a busy sports season, such as Football season or the NBA Playoffs, as it detracts wrestling viewers anyways. During this period of time, evaluations of the remaining roster would be underway. Drug testing, physicals, firings, hiring, and getting everybody on the same page, in some sort of pep talk, that not even Dixie Carter, could give. Figure out, who truly is bad news for this company and agree on what the future is for this company. Drop the moronic, Dixie Carter and Vince Russo, and bring in someone such as, Paul Heyman to take care of creative. Even in, 2011, Heyman is one of the few who knows what is cool, today.

Steiner's Lackey? I think Not.
Looking at drug tests and past records, we learn it is time to give up on the Jeff Hardy experiment. He is bad news for the company as a whole, and this publicity from his brother has not helped either. Drop Hardy from the roster and Rob Van Dam, who I do not trust as a positive influence on a locker room full of young stars. Say what you will, but RVD doesn't even show passion for this art anymore, he's outdated. Some may say, drop Kendrick, and I will.....His character. It is now time to bring some new talent under contract. It is time to bring back, Petey Williams and Amazing Red. Also, bring in Paul London, Sami Callihan, Fit Finlay, and Johnny Gargano...To start. With all the roster cuts, it's time to bring in some of the most unique and reliable names in wrestling.....London & Kendrick reunion would be fantastic as well.

Addressing the rest of the roster, it is time to put Kurt Angle back into shape. I'd give him one last warning and if he wishes not to abide, he can go. If he agrees to cooperate, the company will thrive with his name power. Rather than having him bury young talent, he can help put them over...Ever thought of that? You know....Instead of putting a guy older than you over (Sting). Mr. Anderson will be an asset, if limited to what he can say. In, WWE, it was known that, if given the right material, Anderson can deliver. Jeff Jarrett, is also another name I'd keep around, as he is still entertaining with the right material.

Before, I continue, here is the quick recap....

Future Endeavored: Anarquia, Hernandez, Miss Tessmacher, Jackie, Eric Young, Jesse Neal, Shannon Moore, Mark Haskins, Shannon Moore, Rob Terry, Jeff Hardy, and RVD

Hired: Petey Williams, Paul London, Fit Finlay, Sami Callihan, Johnny Gargano, and Amazing Red

Pending: Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, and Mr. Anderson

As for the "up and coming talent" since 2005, the originals would be given spotlight as well. If I were to choose a select five guys to build a promotion around, it would have to be, Samoa Joe, Robert Roode, Daniels, Crimson, and Kurt Angle. Why, Kurt Angle? You need a veteran presence in the main scene to bring up other young talents. He can still go and if under control, again, he's  big keeper. As for the rest, push Roode to the moon, let Joe kill people in the ring like he did upon arrival, let Daniels play the heel everyone knows and loves to watch, and as for, Crimson....He can go...If you don't believe me, watch his Indy work. Crimson can be a far bigger sell than people give him credit for. These are five guys you want in your company.

AJ is not someone to build around
Before others wonder about, AJ Styles, I like AJ, but just not in the main event. He could be in and out of the main event at times, but I wouldn't want to rely on his "charisma" to be much more of an on again, off again, main event name. Bully Ray is always awesome on the mic and can go in the ring, so I feel he is another who can be in and out of the main event. Abyss and Sami Callihan could be your sadistic wrestlers who are unique and also capable to wrestle. Then if you need anything else, there is Mr. Anderson, Austin Aries, Doug Williams, and Jeff Jarrett. Imagine that upper mid card booked properly? It would destroy the WWE in terms of entertainment and intrigue. Doug Williams vs Austin Aries > David Otunga vs Jerry Lawler.

The main thing TNA needs is logical booking with a competitive edge, like something, Paul E Dangerously could bring to the table as well as a roster of well rounded, outspoken young bucks who have much charisma and in ring ability. They need to reshape the shows format, cut down on the promos and focus more on pure wrestling. Wrestling does not sell tickets along, however, so again, promos are proven to be necessary in, sports entertainment. Give 25 minutes a show, build a show and give us a reason to care. Don't believe hyping a PPV in advance sells tickets? Look at the build up for, Money in the Bank and the result of the buyrate. It was a very impressive increase and DVD sales are bound to be a major success. Telling a proper story with great wrestling will make any wrestling organization, successful.

On top of that, individualism and uniqueness in your in ring matches do help as well. People will always ask what true alternative does a certain promotion bring that makes it worth watching. TNA did once have that and can easily continue to do so and rectify, said traditions. For starters, lets make their "special matches," once again unique. Feature the Ultimate X match only a select few times per year, for starters. Make sure you make your company stand out, with concepts such as these. Add new traditions, that are not some cheap spin off of a 1990s promotion. Bring back the X Cup Tournament, one of my favorite aspects that TNA Wrestling used to bring to the table. Why not build up special events, such as these to make people want to view the programming? This is what sells and makes a company a success.

Speaking of, popular traditions and unique differences that make a company special, why not truly capitalize on things that WWE is not providing. TNA has teams such as, the Motor City Machineguns and Beer Money Inc, why not revitalize the tag team division? This was one of the most popular features in TNA for years and they blew it all away because WWE didn't do it. Bring in, London & Kendrick, hire some new teams such as, the Young Bucks or The Briscoes. Make some teams such as Jesse Sorenson and Kid Kash. There a plethora of things you can do with this roster, that will make it awesome. Give the X Division a chance to WRESTLE for ten minutes, not ten second spot fests. TNA did not bring back the X Division we loved, they added ten kids to waste their time in five minute matches. Therefore, cut the expendables, in Anthony Nese or Robbie E. Talented kids, but I don't see a future for them in a cluttered division. Especially with the new names I'd bring in.

Only an idiot would put her in their top ten list of women's wrestlers
Then going on to what used to be the best televised women's wrestling in years, the Knockouts Division. Once main eventing episodes of iMPACT, these women have now joined up with the Divas in a competition to see who is more pathetic. They can shakes their asses and take their clothes off well, but they can not wrestle. Once again, all TNA does is try and counteract WWE's rating opposed to reacting to the fact that they can bring in viewers with wrestling and well told stories....Who would have thought that's what wrestling fans want? Knockouts have always brought in ratings, especially when they have been given the spotlight. Again, don't believe me? Check the ratings from when Knockouts were relevant. Give these ladies a chance, there are so many good ones on the roster. Hell, I'm going to toss out, Rosita and Sarita, and bring in some actual talents. Bring in Serena Deeb or give Roxxi her job back....That's one heck of a division.

Get Tenay and his face off of TNA TV forever....
As for on air personalities, I like Bischoff and Karen Jarrett a lot on TV. Keep them limited and they are very fun in small doses. Bischoff was a kick on Raw in 2005 and Jarrett can also be fun as the "spoiled princess" who is in charge of the women. Again, if booking is right, what can go wrong? On additional problem, however, are the voices behind the booth. No offense to Taz, but he isn't exactly the cream of the crop and Tenay is garbage at the helm. Once again, my good buddy, Nick brought up a good point: A company needs an original voice that will call all the memorable moments and truly  have the passion for this company. Color commentary is a tad more easy to solve, as you can pit in a Mick Foley or Taz (yeah he's ok, I guess), but the play by play man needs to be original. Mike Tenay sucks. End of story. If you want a quick solution, Borash is a good solution, but you can always search outside for an original voice; that is necessary. The only thing worse than Mike Tenay, is angry Mike Tenay, who yells at the heels, as if he's a small child who cries when John Cena loses a match.

Now, before we continue, it's time to refresh everybody on the TNA roster.....

Transactions: 

Future Endeavored: Anarquia, Hernandez, Miss Tessmacher, Jackie, Eric Young, Jesse Neal, Shannon Moore, Rob Terry, Mark Haskins, Shannon Moore, Mike Tenay, Jeff Hardy, Anthony Nese, Robbie E, Sarita, Rosita and RVD


Hired: Petey Williams, Paul London, Fit Finlay, Sami Callihan, Johnny Gargano, Roxxi, Serene Deeb, Young Bucks, and Amazing Red


Pending: Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, /Taz, and Mr. Anderson

Divisions.....

Knockouts: Mickie James, Tara, Roxxi, Serena Deeb, Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, Madison Rayne

Tag Team: Motor City Machineguns, Beer Money, Young Bucks, Jesse Sorenson & Kid Kash, Paul London & Brian Kendrick, Styles & Daniels, British Invasion

X Division: Petey Williams, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Alex Shelly, Chris Sabin, Amazing Red, Douglas Williams, AJ Styles, Chris Daniels, Austin Aries, Kid Kash, Kazarian, Zema Ion

Heavyweight: Johnny Gargano, Fit Finlay, Kurt Angle, Mr. Anderson, Jeff Jarrett, Abyss, AJ Styles, Chris Daniels, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, James Storm, Bully Ray, Crimson, The Pope, Gunner, Magnus, Matt Morgan, Sami Callihan, Samoa Joe

Now that the roster is all set when the show returns on the scene, you can see all the divisions are equally balanced. I put every star in the division they are eligible for in the beginning based on weight class, past history, and gender. The next question would be, what are they all fighting for? What is the point of being in this promotion for just the, "spirit of competition?" The fans don't want hugfests, they want slugfests, courtesy of their favorite talents. This means, championship prestige, is now apparent in wrestling again. Before, I continue, lets drop some dead weight in the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championships as well as the TNA Global Legendary Television Title. Those championships are worthless, and the amount of belts needed in a company is four. We now shift our focus to the World Heavyweight, Knockouts, X Division, and Tag Team Championships.

The core four is now established, and we must make them feel important. Another dead art today, seems to be title reigns that exceed three months, and to be honest, I somewhat agree. Today, year long title runs seem to get stale and booking seems to become lazy when they attempt to do so (Miz, Kane cough). Nonetheless, adding prestige through reasonable length reigns. Five to seven months is very reasonable at times and it builds credibility as a Superstar, to be able to hang on to a belt this long.

Aries has proven to be an asset
What if you had, World Champion, Christopher Daniels defeating guys like AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, and Austin Aries in a series of bouts over a course of six months. Then, after Daniels defeats everybody, he encounters, Samoa Joe, who has destroyed everyone in his path and they are set to square off. With the appropriate storytelling, this could easily be one of the best feuds in recent history.

Sure, you are going to have some more frequent championship changes, but it is necessary. When the World Heavyweight and X Division champions are having long runs, make the Tag Champs and Knockouts Champ have three to four month reigns. As long as they are strong, this process can and would work. We need a reason to care about the championship titles and this way, we can. Superstars of today are still able to carry these titles with honor, pride, and intensity...so let them. Don't have it be a game of hot potato over it. That way, we will actually give a crap about the titles...

TNA needs to be on the road consistently

The next order of business, would of course be, the quality of the production. Honestly, there is really not much that needs improvement. I do feel camera angles and the way certain backstage promos/segments are cut are unique and cool to view. The one thing I would scratch, however, are those lame, cell phone shots that are taken in backstage brawls. One of the things they do need, however, is to never use that canned heat or pop again. Then again, why would they if I was at the helm #Confidence.

As of now, Orlando Studios is dead, and they need to get the Hell out of there. The fans suck. The production quality looks far worse than it does when they branch out. The canned heat makes me mute my television....the one or two times I've truly watched the show, that is. However, when on the road, the crowd really is pretty alive for the product and it's a very fresh feeling. I also love the entrance ramp, that is a very unique concept compared to the same junk WWE throws at us for every show of the week. Change up in the overall look is very good for everyone. The more, TNA is on the road, the more the company thrives and this is a necessity for anyone to succeed. Imagine if Raw was held in two arenas primarily over a ten year course. This is something that would need to happen or the company would fold.

Another way, to branch out, would to be scrapping the useless PPVs. Here is the current, 2011, PPV listing....

January: Genesis
February: Against All Odds
March: Victory Road
April: Lockdown
May: Sacrifice
June: Slammiversary
July: Destination X
August: HardCore Justice
September: No Surrender
October: Bound for Glory
November: Turning Point
December: Final Resolution

It is time to scrap the following: Against All Odds, Victory Road, Sacrifice, HardCore Justice, Turning Point, and Genesis. Here's what the new schedule would look like...

February: LockDown
May: Slammiversary
June: Destination X
August: No Surrender
October: Bound for Glory
December: Final Resolution

That's how you make TNA relevant. Promotion is essential
Make all the pay per views matter and feel important. As a smaller company, so many PPVs are unnecessary, as are the ones with no meaning or purpose, whatsoever. In between these shows, have special episodes of, iMPACT. Three hour specials or gimmick shows, to help aid hyping PPVs as well as keeping the fans' interest and giving them a free alternative, to give them a reason to purchase PPVs. They have made shows feel very important on few occasions in the past and it would be something very entertaining, done on several occasions.

With all the activity going on, there is still one very important aspect, which is, drawing an audience. This is something that TNA has not been able to do and has not had the opportunity to do, based on the fact they have been in the same arena for years now. Promoting your product, nationwide, is vital. One of the shows, I will always remember in, TNA, was the January 4th special a few years back. Was it the most well wrestled show or the most entertaining? No, but it was something so hyped, that it felt special to watch.

TNA hyped it so well on television, billboards, press conferences, and more, that it just felt like it was an event you just couldn't miss out on. That is what TNA needs to bring to the table more often. The main question for any viewer is, "Why should I care?" and TNA must give us a reason to care about the Superstars, championships, and for the product, itself. They need to go outside, they need to contact media outlets, and big events where many will be watching....Similar to this, from, January 4th.
 Get why I'd want Hulk in my organization, now?

With media attention, such as this, more people are attracted to the product and are more inclined to watch. I had never before seen, so much hype put into a show, from this promotion, and it really disappoints me that they have failed to do such an event, since. Hype, such as this, is necessary for Bound for Glory, Slammiversary, big debuts, big matches, etc. Give this show a, UFC like feel. Give us press conferences, get real media attention.....Do all this appropriately and a fantastic show is bringing in a much larger audience. There are so many opportunities in other outlets, such as social networking. Once again, promotion is essential. It leads to PPV buys, a rising audience, merchandise sales, and all of that....

Even now, why could TNA not make iMPACT have a very imperative feel to it? UFC is now moving to Fox, so why couldn't TNA become the primary attraction to Spike? They have a great television deal and a network backing them, pretty well. Why not take advantage of it? Advertise a big televised event and make massive ratings on, Spike. (Compared to prior ratings). Anything is possible, with their television deal, and it's sad they will more than likely be thrown off instead of taking advantage of opportunities and making the show good enough to have Spike's full attention as an asset. 

When you look at it all, this really, how any wrestling organization with resources should treat their company. Would TNA ever accommodate all of this? Likely, not, but it's always fun to look at the true potential this company has had. If you rid yourself of the shit booking, promote the product, and readjust your roster....Then you have a great competitor for the stale, WWE. I hope you enjoyed my lengthy look at what TNA can become, but won't. It is always fun to pretend you are in control and fix the essential product. Again, we will likely see TNA fold before anything else, which is a shame, but it is always fun to play the, "What if I was in charge," game.

-Rallo

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