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Column: 13 Ways to Improve TNA



by Tom G

Ugh.

I try and I try to like TNA, or Impact Wrestling — a much better name — but gosh, I’m just not sure anyone with any self respect can actually claim to be a fan.

I watch the show every week. I try to get hooked by something, but I’m so busy scratching my head I give up and just sit mystified.

I want to like the show, though. I miss when there were a “big two.” I want to think I could do a better job running TNA. I’ve been watching several hours of wrestling a week since the 1980s and I think I’ve picked up on a few things here and there. For that reason, I offer 13 ways to help TNA in 2013.

1. 1. Enough with Aces & Eights. Is there a pay-off we anticipate for this angle? If this was an NWO redo it has failed miserably. A bunch of masked guys don’t intrigue. I can’t see where this angle is going, and quite frankly, I don’t care. The best part is the Brother Ray has been elevated to a main eventer on his own, thought that’s about it. Are they trying to take over TNA? Who knows, who cares.

2. 2. Make Gut Check mean something. I don’t see the point of this segment when after a talent is accepted by the judges, they disappear for months at a time. Joey Ryan and Christian York have been exceptions, but they were the two most veteran wrestlers to start. Gut Check is a nice concept that just isn’t properly executed.

3. 3. End the backstage nonsense. I don’t want to hear Jason Hervey’s voice. Little is gained through these segments.

4. 4. Have Matt Morgan destroy Hulk Hogan. Hogan needs to go. Hogan needs to take Brooke with him. Morgan needs to be the biggest monster heel they can make him. The guy is a beast that should be treated like one. And with the Hogan’s gone…

5. 5. It’s time to drop James Storm (his ship has sailed), Eric Young (schtick got old), ½ the Knockouts (the boring ones), Kid Kash (nothing-doing), any Aces & Eights member wearing a mask, Samoa Joe (time for him to visit WWE), Mr. Anderson (has had more face/heel switches than Lex Lugar), Sting (he can only make so many comebacks) and any other person on the roster who hasn’t had a match on TV in more than four months.

6. 6. With these departures it makes room for some fresh talent. Should he not head to WWE, Shelton Benjamin would be a great addition. From ROH Mike Bennett and Maria would make a nice duo. Abraham Washington could come over as too hot for WWE (which would work with a point I’ll make later). For some extreme I’d bring in Luke Hawx. I think a monster Chris Masters might add another viable heel. Petey Williams always seemed to be a hell of a talent who might add some sizzle. (And I know, a lot of these folks are former WWE stars. I get it, but the casual fan doesn’t pop for some indy star they never heard of before.)

7. 7. My new additions come about as a way to bring some edge to TNA. I think it’s time to reboot a bit and become the true, edgy alternative to WWE. They’re on Spike TV for goodness sakes! Forget about the kids. Make the Knockouts as sexy as can be. Drop the gimmicky gimmicks and focus on the athleticism of the roster. Make the Impact Zone resemble a gritty club. Make it an 18 (even 21) and older crowd. Adopt a slogan like “Impact Wrestling: We’re Not For Kids.” Kids are WWE fans. Most aren’t familiar with TNA. Embrace that. TNA should be a little ECW, a little ROH, a little Attitude Era and a little something they can bring on their own.

8. 8. Working toward a more edgy TNA, build the organization around A.J. Styles, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, Jeff Hardy, Matt Morgan, Magnus and a few new TNA members. Reward some of the veterans while giving them some new talent to face. Develop Joey Ryan into more of a Roddy Piper-type heel and let him join the mix. The Dudleys and Kurt Angle can stay, but should be used to help elevate the rest of the talent.

9. 9. TNA is already dropping some PPVs for 2013. I say get to six a year and rebrand them all to reflect a new edginess. Most, if not all, TNA PPVs have lame, southern-NWA sounding names. Market the PPVs to a young adult audience. Perhaps do some spring break visiting like WCW did. Maybe some PPVs can be held in non-traditional venues. When WCW was successful it won over the college-aged crowd. Find a way to make that happen.

10. 10. Relax the rules. I don’t want to see ECW again, but let the guys go at it. Rewrite the wrestling rulebook and make sure fans understand what the rules are. Don’t go too far overboard, but add some edginess in every area.

11. 11. Get an all new announce team. At least make some major changes. Mike Tenay might be kept for main events only. Taz needs a young, energetic play-by-play guy. Guys like Jack Korpela aren’t really who I have in mind, but there are young guys who know the sport that could do the job. Jeremy Borash needs to remain behind the scenes. I’d have Christy Hemme doing interviews and someone new ring announcing. Heck, if just back as an announcer, I’d break my young idea and let Eric Bischoff call matches so long as he just announce.

12. 12. Make loose partnerships with independent promotions. This might even take the place of Gut Check, but perhaps once or twice a month a match between two indy stars takes place in Impact. Give some indy guys exposure and the program the feeling of unpredictability. “Hey fans, next week we’ll feature a great match between stars of Dragon Gate USA…” Granted, the majority of fans might not know who the indy talents are, but for the fans who do, this could be a real treat and help bring the fans of those promotions to view the show.

13. 13. Kill the “Championship” and “Open Fight Night” concepts. They have run their course and have become quite stale. Instead, perhaps, put the X Title on the line each week. Let wrestlers challenge each other at any time (which basically is already what happens?).

I am excited to hear the moans and groans of why my ideas won’t work, but am also excited to hear what ideas you have that might just add some excitement to the sport we all love.

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17 Responses

  1. Scott says:

    I think some of it can work, but I think we can all agree upon “Hogan must go!”. I’d bet you money if Hogan was gone, it wouldn’t negatively impact the ratings.

  2. Joe says:

    These ideas are amazing. TNA needs to cut the crap and focus on what is going to get them noticed. They need to be the serious, edgey alternative to the WWE that fans crave. They also need to get rid of Jeff’s version of the TNA title. It devalues the title letting him bring his own (in my opinion ugly) championship title.
    Also, to expand on your comment on Mr. Anderson, they need to stop changing everyone from Heel to Face then Heel again. A turn isn’t going to get anyone’s attention when they do it all the time.

  3. Motorhead says:

    Too many people want tna to do what wwe does. not suggesting that’s what tom g is saying, but the fact remains. The truth is that wwe is sports entertainment not pro wrestling. It’s like the old saying about boxing: i went to see some boxing and a fight broke out. Every now and then a pro wrestling match breaks out in wwe somewhere, but it’s still sports entertainment. Tna is trying to be pro wrestling but continualy keeps tripping over very bad attempts at sports entertainment. The commen lament of a tna fan, me included, could be summed up as follows: i went to watch pro wrestling and sports entertainment broke out. I don’t agree with all of tom’s thoughts but i do agree a more focused roster is start.

  4. G says:

    I quite enjoyed the aces and eights story line, right up until they made Devon the leader. I know everyone was expecting JJ back but they need to be more creative and make story lines more unpredictable. Agree with the use of ‘elder statesman’ to develop new talent. Getting bored of RVD, Angle etc all the time. Just my opinions. Feel free to knock them back. Also would love to see Abyss return anytime soon, instead of this stiupid Joseph Park character.

  5. Jeff Gorman says:

    TNA should accept my challenge to be the first announcer to take the Gut Check Challenge. I’ve called play-by-play for Ring of Honor and a live, global MMA pay-per-view (Moosin: God of Martial Arts).

    Here is my latest challenge video: The Talent Pool. http://bit.ly/WIrRBT

    If you like it, feel free to tweet @TNADixie and ask her to #makeroom4Gorman – thanks!

  6. JuanS says:

    Great ideas – if I can go one step further with #12. Bring in a team like The Dark City Fight Club, mention the fact they are former 2x NWA World Tag Team champion, TNA can actually show some of their more brutal matches- no need to show vignettes. Hear me out on this. In between actual live matches, TNA can showcase a new team by showing a video of their match–we would get match in-between matches!!! Just saying.

  7. Prince Dann says:

    I read the first paragraph.

    You started out really biased.

    Anyone who likes TNA has no self respect. Who are you to judge me or my self respect. Start your article neutral. Present two sides, then your conclusion. Don’t start it by picking a side and insulting the people who don’t have the same view.

  8. RAW 1000 says:

    18 – 35 Demographic

    - Knockouts in less clothing.
    - common sense in writing a tv show
    - Push AJ over Jeff Hardy show that TNA’s guy is better than the WWE outsider.
    - Hardcore TV Title 24/7 Title Defences
    - More stipulations in PPV’s e.g. 2 out of 3 falls, ladder matches.
    - better Themes to a PPV e.g. All Cage matches, all tables, all ladders.
    - lose comic relief gimmicks
    - more time for knockouts, use them in major storylines aswell.
    - bring in Beth Phoenix and make her truely the modern Chyna. Beth Vs AJ Styles etc.
    - finish Aces & 8′s storyline. Reveal all faces behind masks.
    - have some of them split into tag teams to add more to the tag division.
    - keep Mr Anderson, Samoa Joe use them heavily in the TV Title picture along with Matt Morgan and Hernandez.

  9. Troy Smirh says:

    I disagree with just about everything on this list. I’m tired of attitude and edginess. It’s not the 90s anymore. ECW is dead and it needs to stay dead.

  10. Nick A says:

    If TNA actually went out and set themselves as even more edgy than they already are, they would lose at least a third of their fanbase immediately. They can’t afford to lose 1. the families and 2. the old school Southern Memphis-style wrestling fans.

    I find it interesting however that your solution is exactly what most fans have really liked about the last year of shows. Now you want to bring in a bunch of ex-WWE stars and fire half the home grown TNA stars.

    Come on. TNA isn’t perfect but it’s easily the best televised wrestling in the USA today.

  11. Fisha695 says:

    #7 Part A: Get rid of the stupid gimmicks
    #7 Part B: Bring in more stupid gimmicks

    ??????

    Don’t get me wrong I agree with what you said in #7 especially about the feel of the show, but if you want it to feel like Shotgun Saturday Night it has to be shot in a filthy seedy club like Shotgun Saturday Night was (originally) not just a new set on the Soundstage inside Disney World that they use now.

    I also agree about the loosening of the rules abit, not to ECW lengths but just back to how it was during the TNA on FSN days. Another two things I’d like to see make a comeback from those days are the Time Limits for matches (even if not needed they make the matches seem a little more action filled because as a fan you’re not just cheering for your guy but you’re also hoping they beat the time limit), as well as the Champion could lose the title via DQ (even if only for like the X-Division or TV titles).

    I agree too about Aces & 8s dragging on way to long, at first I was like cool a modern take on NWO/DX/Outsiders, then it drug on a bit long but I was still holding out hope that it would work… But alas it’s been 6 months with no real direction or even objective for the group. Then tonight they unmasked Mike Knox as the announcer said “Former WWE Star Mike Knox”…. Sure “former” as in like what 3 or 4 years ago he was last heard from & “star” as in had maybe 1 big storyline and the rest of the time he just kinda jobbed & switched gimmicks every few weeks…. But they proudly plugged the WWE & Mike Knox having worked there as if they were trying to copy the Outsiders storyline, except that Mike Knox was nowhere near as hot in the WWE as Nash & Hall were and it’s nowhere near as close of a jump so by TNA even mentioning WWE they’re just giving their competition more free advertising.

  12. perfectly to the point says:

    Or, do everyone a favour and take Totally Nondescript Action off of television and end the constant agony

  13. Mchater says:

    They need to do the one thing they have never done since they began: BUILD THE PROMOTION AROUND SOMEONE AND MAKE HIM A STAR. START WITH ARIES.

  14. ILMH says:

    Dann, I do agree with the “present two sides” argument, but I’ve seen your comments, and all you do is rail on WWE. Two sides.

    My one goal is to find someone to stand up for TNA without bringing up WWE. Or to put TNA down without bringing up WWE. The latter is much much easier.

  15. Gazz says:

    I agree with what someone above said, you’re first sentence seems to smack of dislike/disrepect toward those who wish to watch something other than WWE. Here in the UK, unless we stream any other smaller promotion’s shows, TNA is the only other mainstream option to WWE that we have, so with that said, here are my thoughts on your “improvements”.

    1. This is where a mix of TNA being pretaped and internet dirt sheets are both to blame. If the identities of the members hadn’t have been speculated on and/or revealed by said dirt sheets, the interest would be there.

    2. I actually agree with this, seeing as most of the competitors have the look to fit into the X Division (ok, KO’s for Hendrix) there could be somewhat of a pay off with them possibly receiving a shot at the X title.

    3. The problem here lies within the fact that they only have the one show/timeslot per week in which to get the storylines and wrestlers over. In this day and age, fans seem to want just as much storyline as they do in ring action. Oh and if by the Jason Hervey reference you’re referring to that once slipped audible (someone saying “Cut” at the end of the segment), I guess thats where an advantage lies of being a UK fan in that something like that can be edited out before broadcast.

    4. Why Matt Morgan? What makes him so special?

    5. As I’ve mentioned on other forums, with TNA trying to expand their presense to international markets at the rate they have been doing lately, they need the familiar/veteran faces to help put the product over in areas where a lot of the “Originals” would still be unfamiliar to the new viewing audience(s) as they once were to a fan such as myself.

    6. You seem to be replacing one group of known faces with a group of other known faces (barring one or 2). Wheres the sense in that?

    7 & 8. Whilst TNA have indeed been trying to market themselves as a “wrestling matters/we are wrestling, not gimmicky entertainment” product aimed at a more adult audience, you’re always going to have children make up a small percentage of a viewing audience, and having someone like Jeff Hardy be TNA’s answer to John Cena (popular with women and children) your vision of an edgier TNA may not be realised.

    9. I also agree with this in that, as I stated earlier, with TNA having only the one show/timeslot, dropping a few PPV’s would give them more time to develop charaters/storylines over a somewhat longer period of time. I don’t know if holding shows in grittier settings aimed at a college/adult audience would benefit the company in the long run though

    10. I will admit, I did like it back in the early days when titles could change hands via a CO/DQ (Sting vs Abyss being one of the only occurances I can remember at this moment) but the problem with it is that if its overdone, people will quickly get bored with it, edgier things need to be done sparringly in order to keep them fresh.

    11. Who would you suggest? I will admit that having 2 anncouncers such as Tenay and Tazz being knowledgeable in the game can be a tad too much, but who currently on TNA’s annoucers roster can do a good enough job? Oh and on the point of Bischoff, I was never a fan of his as a WCW announcer, I always thought he was a better performer.

    12. Again, I agree with this in some respects, whilst a partnership with other companies can help boost roster numbers, you have to think of the markets/areas who may not have heard of the young stars you plan oin bringing in.

    13. Again, much like the edgier aspects you speak of, this is simply another example of trying to use something sparringly whilst having the limited tv scheduile that TNA do.

  16. -J- says:

    Just be happy they survived to this point…after all the reinventions of TNA it not getting better I’ve given up on them getting it right, pro rasslin is giving me a headache.

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