(Column) Levene's PW Thoughts #28

Levene's Wrestling Thoughts #28 by Jeremy Levene

I spent time a number of weeks ago debating what would be needed to transform TNA ‘iMPACT’ Wrestling into a more attractive product. Considering that TNA Lockdown is the second biggest PPV of the year and the first subsequent iMPACT only drew a 0.96 cable rating, I guess that we shouldn’t be asking about what it takes to gain new viewers; instead the focus should be on how to keep them. With TNA only drawing 2,000 people (most likely heavily papered) in an arena that holds 9,000 in Tennessee, it just goes to show that Pro-Wrestling is still a ‘monopoly’ in North America. After the success of WrestleMania (which accrued over 1.3 Million buys and was watched by approx 5 million people), it puts a greater emphasis onto the PPV buy-rates of TNA. WrestleMania enticed approximately 26% of their RAW audience to buy the PPV (with almost 100% watching), where as if TNA can achieve 30,000 buys for Lockdown (which I’m sure they’ll only do half), it would mean they are only drawing money from 2% of their viewers. Someone please tell me that my maths is wrong because that is scary.

Hulk Hogan can claim a multitude of new ideas will turn around the fortunes of TNA, and Dixie Carter can keep saying “tune in next week for the big surprise” all she wants; but she needs to face the facts… a lot of people just don’t care anymore. There are a lot more people on the side of Scott Steiner than TNA. It appears that the resignation of Vince Russo has not lit up the wrestling business as expected. All those who were dancing in unison upon hearing the news are still waiting for change (just like Curt Hawkins). In 2007, I said to my friends that I thought TNA was better than WWE. It might have been because I was disillusioned with WWE and had finally found an alternative (yeah I was late), but my interest was peaked in TNA. Enticed by the credentials of AJ styles on ‘Promotion Wars’, I lucked in to finding links online to watch iMPACT. The 6 sided ring was quirky but I was instantly attached to several new characters while also enjoying the nostalgia factor, seeing recognised guys like Team 3D, Steiner, Nash and Kurt Angle. The roles however have now been reversed. People can crap on the WWE product all they like but I still think that it’s more entertaining than TNA.

I believe that this is the year of the ‘21st Century Worker’. Daniel Bryan and Austin Aries are deservedly over in their respective promotions. If you can’t get invested in someone while they are inside the ring then it leaves you with a problem. Matt Morgan had the chance to walk outside the steel cage at Lockdown and defeat Crimson. The crowd, however, couldn’t care less as Morgan decided to make the inane decision of entering back inside the ring to continue beating down Crimson. The outcome of Morgan and Crimson just made both guys look like geeks. If Matt Morgan really wanted revenge, then he should have just walked out of the door and put both feet on the ground. Ending Crimson’s undefeated streak would have done more emotional damage (in storyline, I’m not stupid) than any physical harm that could be done with a few punches. He could have always gone back inside the ring after he won and done the same thing. TNA just doesn’t do anything to protect weaker workers. Although I appreciate Garrett’s efforts during Lethal Lockdown and his response to general hazing (great kick by Kazarian), out needs to go all the crappy workers, and in needs to come an influx of great workers. With Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Tyler Black and Dean Ambrose all ready to step up onto the main WWE roster, a new era could be underway. TNA have at least 2 years with SpikeTV to turn around their fortunes. I firmly believe that if a few top TNA guys were to leave, then it would mean the death knell of the company. If WWE were to snatch away any of the top-tier home-grown TNA talents such as AJ styles, Storm, Roode and MCMG (not Chris Harris or Lance Hoyt), it would complete TNA’s status as a ‘B’ rated WWE show. What would you do in 2 years?
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