Will Quinton “Rampage” Jackson be able to boost TNA’s business, or will he be yet another disappointment for the company?
Make no mistake about it: TNA desperately needs Jackson to take off in a big way. America’s No. 2 pro wrestling promotion is in trouble right now.
The company’s ratings have nose-dived in recent months, partly due to a stale product and the boring, seemingly never-ending "Aces and Eights" invasion angle.
As Dave Meltzer noted, disaster struck last week when, for the first time ever, Impact failed to make the top-100 cable shows in the all-important 18-49 demographic. TVByTheNumbers reveals what did chart.
Yes, in this category the prime-time edition of Impact was beaten by morning repeats of Supernatural and Charmed.
To make matters worse, this was the edition Jackson made his debut for the company, getting into a staredown with Kurt Angle.
The company faces other issues too: while getting out of the Impact Zone and taking its flagship show on the road made have sounded like a great idea in theory, it’s meant little to no difference to the overall product. And, as Meltzer (via EWrestlingNews) mentioned, it’s also costing them a ton of additional expenses.
Then there are the PR issues.
Shannon “Daffney” Spruill’s high-profile lawsuit against TNA over unpaid medical bills—which was settled earlier this year as PWI mentions—remains a black eye on the company’s image.
The Christy Hemme/Austin Aries debacle—which was even covered by TMZ, was also a massive embarrassment.
Current TNA wrestler, and former X Division champion, Zema Ion recently started an online fundraiser to raise money for his medical expenses—so much for being a big TV star. The company has unsurprisingly received negative attention for this too.
But can Rampage turn things around for TNA?
As mentioned, his debut for the company didn’t do a great number.
As Wade Keller’s Impact quarter breakdown revealed, the Angle/Jackson confrontation wasn’t even the highest rated segment of the show. Yes, the boring bout between Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez did a slightly better number.
OK, Jackson is one of the most famous MMA fighters in the world—and has even had Hollywood success with his role in the 2010 A Team remake—but is there any reason to believe that will transfer over to TNA?
Let’s face it: bringing in Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan didn’t make a difference. Bringing in Jeff Hardy didn’t make a difference. Switching to Monday nights for a while didn’t make a difference. Taking Impact on the road didn’t make a difference.
So, how could a past-his-prime MMA fighter turn things around?
There’s also the question of just how dedicated to wrestling Jackson is.
Sure, wrestling may look fun to many MMA fighters, but getting in the ring and taking bumps is hard. And it takes its toll on the body too—just look at Mick Foley or Undertaker.
Is Jackson, who will also be fighting for Bellator, truly willing to undertake a huge commitment to wrestling?
Is the star, who is married with young children, willing to put his life on hold to go down for several months to OVW in Kentucky to prepare to get into the ring with Kurt Angle?
It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Sure, Jackson may garner TNA some mainstream attention and maybe even do a great one-off rating.
But fans of America's No.2 promotion shouldn't get their hopes up too high.
It remains to be seen if TNA truly is beyond saving at this point, but Rampage Jackson probably isn't going to be the one to turn things around, for all the reasons discussed.