TNA Impact: A Formula for Failure
Coming off of last week's "Whole F'n Show" Pay Per View for TV, I was convinced that TNA President Dixie Carter, Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan had finally figured it out.
They had momentum on their side to go along with real and sustainable upward mobility, a first under the Hogan/Bischoff regime.
After all, as I stated in my article last week which I won't even bother to reference now, they had a new formula for pro wrestling. Knowing that they only had two hours for on-air programing, they finally realized that TNA fans want to watch wrestling when they tune in to their wrestling show.
Nevermind the fact that last week was essentially a Pay Per View, I stupidly (and erroneously) thought for sure that TNA created Reaction for the sole purpose of advancing storylines, back stage promos, previews for next week and the next pay per view as well as peddling their merchandise.
Much like last week, when I was so hyped up after Impact that I knew I had to sleep on it before providing my critique, I decided to take the rest of the night to calm down after what I saw yesterday.
I will say this however: When it comes to my belief that TNA was finally starting understand their audience, to understand that the fans want great wrestling action, young stars and a bright future, well to say that I'm eating crow right now is an understatement.
While Matthew Hester, in his article entitled "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: A Look At Last Night's Impact," provided an excellent analysis of the highs and lows of the most recent TNA episode, I would disagree with him on one point: Last night's show wasn't average.
Compared to last week's episode, this weeks show was a downright insult, a slap in the face to the fans that foolishly believed TNA had finally turned the corner.
Of course, some people might point out the fact that last weeks episode was intended to be the PPV in style due to Dixie handing Hardcore Justice off to EV2 or EV2.0 or whatever. The old ECW guys.
You'd be correct in that assessment.
However, I was under the mistaken impression that Reaction was debuting last week to show fans a new formula for wrestling, geared specifically toward the TNA type of audience. That formula, which I wrote about extensively after last weeks show involved less talk, less story, less promos and general BS.
Basically, I thought that TNA was going to save all of the supplemental garbage that kills the fan enthusiasm, the show momentum and leave all of that for Reaction, allowing the fans to watch a good, high-octane wrestling show that featured some of the best wrestling talent, young and old alike, in the world.
I should have seen the writing on the wall. Earlier in the week, Eric Bischoff lashed out at the WWE for their failed youth movement, talking about how it's the names in this business that put butts in seats and money in the promoter's pockets (I'm paraphrasing, of course).
As soon as I saw this, I realized all over again that Bischoff truly doesn't understand his audience. He doesn't understand that TNA fans will pull for the best wrestler, cheer for the big spots (regardless of who pulls them off) and while they have their favorites, they just want to see quality action.
The fact that a wrestler cuts a scathing heel promo before their match couldn't be any less relevant.
It's reason number one why AJ Styles will never be a heel in TNA. The fans recognize what he's done in TNA and they love him for it. When he was talking last night about TNA being AJ Styles? The crowd loved it and whole-heartedly agreed. Mind you, again, this was intended to be a heel promo.
But this wasn't the only oddity, the only mistake, the only painful moment in an episode that was so bad, so dull, so opposite of last week in terms of quality and even quantity.
I took the liberty of jotting down notes from last night as I watched the train wreck of an episode and as I viewed the opening paddy-cake/fake punch competition between Hardy, his blurry butt crack and Abyss, I knew immediately that I simply can't go back to this.
I can't go from the style of show last week to what ended up happening last night. I can't pay $35 to see a good program when I know they're capable of having it on TV if they'd just cut out all the nonsense. No TV show should make fans suffer just to get a few moments of elation and/or justification for their fandom.
Maybe I could tolerate it or even like this kind of Impact show in the past, but no more.
Here now are my notes from last night's Impact, and why Hogan, Bischoff and Carter have so thoroughly dropped the ball with both their own locker room as well as the TNA fans that clearly deserve better:
Page 1 Notes
As I wrote my notes from last night's Impact, I became increasingly aware of how much emphasis I was placing on the time allotted to each segment. I have every intention of totaling these numbers up at the end. I have a feeling that we'll all be somewhat shocked, or at least disappointed with the results.
15 Minutes: Abyss and Hardy beat down. It seems half hearted. Just a lot of punching from one place to the next. Slow and boring.
Eric Bischoff's announcement: Why does Bischoff have to come to the ring to announce that the belt is vacated? Couldn't Taz and Tenay have done this during the entrances for the opening bout?
4-5 Minutes: Jeff Hardy Versus Rob Terry
Seriously, who does Rob Terry have pictures of in order to get this much promotion on TNA?
Very slow match. The crowd is dead. Terry seems almost bored, which is understandable because everyone and their mother know that he's going to lose this match.
Botched Swanton. His legs barely hit Terry. Wow, what a mediocre match.
Zero show momentum or crowd momentum after opening of Impact heading in to this match.
9 Minutes: Commercial - Story Recap. Showing the beat down from the end of last week.
Hogan apparently has a very important call. Are you freaking kidding me? He's thinking about quitting? Go with that idea. Please. I'm begging you. Worst segment of the night.
Brief Anderson promo about his match tonight. A behind the scenes type of deal. I really wish they'd save the behind the scenes stuff for Reaction.
5 Minutes: Jay Lethal Vs Ken Anderson
FROM GREEN BAY WISCONSIN! Most alive the Crowd has been all night, but they still seem VERY subdued. A lot of chants that seem to be coming from about ten people.
Does anyone think that Lethal will win this match? Apparently not.
12 Minutes: Angelina Love backstage promo.
MCMG Promo... Lifted DIRECTLY from last week's Reaction? All I have to say is: Why?
Fourtune has arrived.
Commercials. Shop TNA ad so nice they have to show it twice.
Page 2 Notes
2 Minutes!!: Angelina Love Vs Madison Rayne
I love the Velvet face turn. The crowd really wants to like her so this was well timed.
Nice match. Crowd is getting in to it... Just as it... ENDS!? Are you kidding me? That was... 2 minutes!?
7 Minutes: The beatdown after the match lasts almost as long as the match itself.
Please take the stupid helmet off of Tara. Everyone knows it's her. She even got a Tara chant last week. Please stop thinking that your fans are stupid and just reveal her already.
Commercial. God I hate Brett Favre.
ECW promo. 2nd replay of the beatdown at the end of last week.
Fourtune is... Still arriving? How long does it take to get from the parking tunnel to the ring?
Page 3 Notes
15 Minutes: Fourtune Promo
Good God... Matt Morgan is now Flair's BODY GUARD!? This is the best that they could give to a guy that was a tag champion not too long ago?
Is AJ Styles promo supposed to be booed here? He built TNA. They're cheering for him. The crowd loves him.
Dixie interrupts. It's her ring. Crowd reaction is subdued.
EV2 has contracts? Ugh.
Ric Flair won't stop talking. He's talking over Dreamer, now he's talking over Foley. What an awful promo. The crowd is dead.
Dreamer Vs Styles at some point tonight. Please God don't let that be the main event.
Commercial. Angle behind the scenes. Another thing that could've been on Reaction.
It's been 22 minutes since the last match ENDED.
6 Minutes: Kurt Angle Vs Doug Williams
First time the crowd's truly been alive is for Angle's entrance. Crowd staying in to it.
I don't want Angle to retire but what a great curve ball it would be storywise if... Nope. Angle won.
Page 4 Notes
7 Minutes: Nash and Sting are on their way to the ring? Awesome. More talking.
Commercial. TNA commercial.
Anderson promo, behind the scenes. Why not save that for Reaction?
10 Minutes: Sting / Nash promo
Nash says he won't step aside. VERY mixed reaction from the crowd. I still can't tell if he's supposed to be the good guy that's getting forced out by bad Hogan and Bischoff or the bad guy that won't step aside for the young guys.
I don't think the crowd knows either, though in their defense, they don't seem to care very much either way.
Now Jarrett's out there. Oh no, he says that Nash is full of BS! Snap!
Dead quiet in the Impact Zone. It's amazing. They used to LOVE Jarrett. He could do no wrong, even when he was a heel. Now they just don't care.
He says that the company is better off with Hogan and Bischoff. I wonder how much those words hurt coming up.
Page 5 Notes
Oh great, now Hogan's out there.
Are they SERIOUSLY taking AIR TIME arguing over who the cancer in TNA is? The answer between these four people is: Yes.
This whole segment could've been given to a match between MCMG and Generation Me. Random, but true. I'm just saying.
All geezers down. Fourtune mercifully spares us the geezer showdown between Hogan/Jarrett and Nash/Sting.
Is Fourtune's music just Flair's entrance with a beat behind it? Wow. Weak.
Commercial. Bound For Glory Promo. I could've sworn they have a ppv before that.
Page 6 Notes
4 Minutes: Commercials, then EV2 backstage promo. Raven and Tommy, still fighting after all these years. Well, arguing anyways.
Very abrupt ending to the conversation. Weird.
5 Minutes: Matt Morgan Vs The Pope
Can they go a week without saying the word "goozled?" Morgan has him by the neck. Just say it. Please. I'm begging you.
Love the arrogance and the smack talk from Morgan. This guy could be a star some day.
Pope wins! Wow. ZERO surprises from the tournament so far. I'm just going to throw out a guess for Bound for Glory: Angle vs Pope.
DREAMER IN THE MAIN EVENT!?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?
6 Minutes: Foley Promo. Should've been on Reaction.
Page 7 and Page 8 Notes
9 Minutes: AJ Styles Vs Tommy Dreamer
I've said it before and I'll say it again: That stupid Flair/Styles robe is freakin ridiculous. It looks like ten white doves crashed in to peacock's butt and someone decided to make clothing out of it.
Dreamer's music isn't half bad for being nothing more than guitar chunk music. I can dig it.
Crowd is TOTALLY divided.
Yeah, that's what you want out of what's supposed to be a blatant heel / face matchup.
Dreamer summersault off the apron looks like something my dad could do. Wow is he moving slowly.
Note to TNA: If you bleed EVERY week, it stops being special.
Fourtune showing up. No wait, EV2 attacks them. Abyss from under the ring... Black Hole Slam. Yay, Abyss ruins the main event.
Another brawl? Sure. Okay.
Reaction Starts: Hardy and Abyss brawling.
Again? Really? Hardy off the top of some scaffolding! Or not.
Seriously, again with the THEY? If "they" don't show up by Bound for Glory, I'm done.
This is the first time I've totaled the times up and wow, I'm honestly a little surprised. I knew that there wasn't that much match content, but when I always said before that the actual wrestling constituted a low percentage of the total show in the past, I was joking for the most part.
Turns out, including entrance themes, the matches took up a grand total time of roughly 32 minutes of a two hour show.
One hour and 30 minutes (roughly) were taken up by commercials, promos, backstage stuff, announcements and general BS.
I have to admit that I only watched the first few minutes of Reaction. I honestly didn't want to see another hour of wrestlers act. I don't have anything against it really, but I felt as though I'd already watched enough of that for one night.
To say that I'm disappointed in TNA is an understatement. I thought for sure that they'd stumbled on to something great. Using Impact to show maybe an hour and twenty minutes of wrestling, then save a half hour for commercials and only use about ten minutes for story stuff.
Apparently TNA can't help but trip over their own feet though. Bischoff has to get his old timers out there. So much story, so much mediocre wrestling during this night. Event he Angle match, which I really liked the thought of going in with Douglas Williams, seemed to be rather by the numbers.
I'm honestly depressed for TNA. Depressed for other fans that, like myself, were actually dumb enough to think that TNA management was finally learning from their mistakes and finally giving the fans what they actually wanted.
I'm depressed for the locker room. There are so many wrestlers that can't even get on TV. Wrestlers with a truly high level of talent that fans either love already or would learn to love quickly if they could simply get out there and be allowed to do their thing.
I read yesterday that Homicide has quit TNA. I'm not surprised. To me, after this episode, which featured Hardy, Flair, ECW, Hogan, Bischoff, Nash, Sting, Dixie, Anderson, Jarrett and others at the expense of the many talented and overlooked wrestlers on this roster, the message is very clear.
This is not the TNA from a year ago. Sure, we'll see some good nights and some bad nights, but Hogan and Bischoff are not interested in putting out a good wrestling product. They're interested in putting out a television show that's more or less a soap opera for washed up has-beens that occasionally features some wrestling on it.
I hate to speak in such absolutes, especially after how much I loved last weeks episode, but I also knew, even then, that there was a fairly large chance that TNA would take last weeks momentum and crap all over it.
I just didn't think they'd do it in such spectacular fashion.
As long as Hogan and Bischoff are in charge of TNA, that company will continue to lose good talent as they promote the old guys; the sharks that smelled blood in the water the second TNA became relevant on the wrestling scene.
Shame on you TNA. Shame on you for not knowing your own fan base and for not doing what you do best. Shame on you for getting away from yourself in favor of these quick fixes, these gimmicks. Shame on you for letting your young talent, especially your homegrown talent rot while these old timers suck up air time like a vaccum cleaner sucks up dirt.
Shame on me for thinking that they'd changed. Shame on me for being dumb enough to look past the obvious and see what I wanted to see. Shame on me for hoping that TNA had finally learned the lessons that should've been obvious over a year ago. Shame on me for hoping that they wanted to be better.
I don't mean to sound so melodramatic, so up one week and down the next, but as great as last weeks episode was, this weeks was equally that far in the opposite direction. A HUGE step back. They got a lot of fans talking after last week and then they follow it up with a combination of everything that wrestling fans hate about TNA.
Again, way to take the momentum from last week and absolutely crush it with the subtlety of a freight train. The word "fail" simply doesn't do last night justice.
I can only hope that Dixie Carter will figure out the fact that she's surrounded by snakes; old hangers-on who refuse to let this business progress. If Eric Bischoff honestly believes that what I saw last night will put butts in seats, than he's even more out of touch than the IWC first thought after he ran WCW in to the ground.
Dixie needs to think about the long term viability of her company. These men would've been decent stop-gaps five years ago, perhaps to lend their names to the show in hopes of raising its' profile.
But now? All these guys are doing is talking and taking time and spots from the younger talent that are more than capable of putting on a quality show featuring athleticism AND vocal skills without getting rubs from guys that haven't been cool since Limb Bizkit topped the charts..
It's time to move forward Dixie. When you put on a show that featured a solid women's match, a two out of three falls match from your best tag teams, a solid Kurt Angle match, the fans were going crazy all night.
Could you hear the difference between that show and last night's episode? I sincerely hope so, and I sincerely hope that you act accordingly, not just for the sake of your show, but for your talented young wrestlers and the wrestling community that desperately wants you to succeed as well.