Column: 13 Ways to Improve TNA
by Tom G
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.