Sometimes you’re too close to the forrest to see the trees. That’s why we’ve been giving an outsiders’ perspective on fixing TNA all week long. We simulated the experience of a fan searching for more info on
TNA.com Impact.com TNAWrestling.com ImpactWrestling.com. It wasn’t a very productive or enlightening experience for a prospective fan. We also tackled the identity crisis that TNA has been dealing with for 5-13 years. Today? Today we look at the way most of us experience TNA…
TNA: TV & The Impact Zone (Part 1)
TNA’s most high profile success was Broken Matt Hardy and Brother Nero’s Final Deletion. It’s hard to decipher whether people truly enjoyed the creativity of it all or if it was more of a “it’s so bad, it’s good”. Either way, it was incredibly unique and got people talking. Without the Final Deletion, our site honestly probably wouldn’t be paying attention to or writing about TNA. Even with that success, TNA is still miles behind WWE financially and in the ratings.
Interestingly, TNA’s television production quality is really quite impressive. They’re full HD. The studio setting allows for consistent and attractive lighting. The entrance way is big and bright. The wrestler’s entrances are intricate. In every technical aspect, they’re better than Ring of Honor, PWG and NJPW. In many ways, they’re actually on par with WWE. And this brings us to any weird problem: They might be too good.
Companies like Ring of Honor or PWG have an outlaw vibe, similar to the original ECW. A DIY spirt. The smaller venues create an air of exclusivity with their intimate setting. You feel like you’re seeing stars in the making before anyone else is seeing them. With the success of independent wrestlers like Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens, fans are clamoring for that “I saw them in a bingo hall!” story before the stars hit the WWE. That’s the irony in all of this, TNA’s production value makes you think they’re in the same league as WWE as opposed to their indy brethren.
In the fan’s eye, this makes TNA seem like a WWE wannabe or knockoff as opposed to a breeding ground for the future. There is the inherently cynical question of “Well if these guys are so good, why aren’t they in WWE?” Whereas other indies make you say, “I can’t wait for WWE to sign this guy!” That’s one of those phantom plagues that TNA faces: How can they present themselves as a peer or alternative to the WWE but also find a way to say they’re the future? The NFL and NBA are both wildly successful entities who coexist with their sports’ college programs because the college games are the journey and the major leagues are the destination. In this industry, the independents are high school, NXT is college and WWE is the bigs. TNA is currently some unfortunate hybrid of the Canadian Football League, the WNBA and the Island of Misfit Toys.
Then there is maybe TNA’s biggest problem: The Impact Zone. Imagine you throw a huge party. You’ve got streamers hanging everywhere, you’ve rented a photo booth, you have a DJ with crazy lights blaring EDM, you even got an ice sculpture. But there are only like 10 people there and that includes your mom. The would-be awesome atmosphere would suddenly start to feel embarrassingly over the top and unnecessary. That’s the problem TNA suffers from with the Impact Zone. Is it the fans? The exhausting TV taping schedule? The fact they’re always in Orlando? Perhaps less is more?
We’ll look at that more tomorrow in Fixing TNA: TV and The Impact Zone (Part 2)