It wasn't until December 30th, 2010 that a Bleacher Report article appeared concerning the "cancellation" of TNA's critically acclaimed show, ReAction. For the most part, this news remained buried under numerous articles and pretty much stayed off of our collective pro wrestling radar.
What could be said about the "cancellation?" We did not cry, nor did we mourn the loss of TNA's hour long docu-drama series that was designed to further story lines from the company's flagship show Impact.
Stuff happens, right?
Wrong; for a company that has very little exposure as is, the "cancellation" of ReAction is a HUGE loss for TNA, especially in light of the show's importance to the flagship show Impact.
There's more to this issue, however, than meets the eye. The word "cancellation" has been used so far in quotations because it's not really clear whether the show was actually "cancelleed." The ambiguity that surrounds the end of ReAction is a sign that TNA lacks direction and is in dire need of a solid plan for 2011 if they expect to still be in business by 2012.
When it was first announced that ReAction was "cancelled," there were no reports as to why. Fans who heard of the news were left to run rampant with all sorts of theories as to why Spike TV chose to pull the plug on TNA's show.
Before the naysayers could have a field day with the news, TNA's staunchest supporters pointed to news from TNA President Dixie Carter that seemingly explained the entire situation:
"Reaction was never picked up as a 52-week show. It was planned to air through the end of 2010. Look for announcements coming soon regarding Impact!!!"
This news from Carter definitely turned a negative into a positive. Apparently from it's very humble beginnings, ReAction was only expected and designed to run until the end of the year. Therefore there was no expectation from the company to continue the show for multiple years.
Carter then laced the situation with a promise that was sure to fill us with grand hopes and joyous expectations: "Look for announcements coming soon regarding Impact!!!"
Who wouldn't get excited after seeing three exclamation points behind a word?
And that's exactly what happened. Fans took the news and began to create all sorts of programming possibilities for the company that would make ReAction seem like a bad dream. Please keep in mind that Dixie Carter has perennially warned us of "big news," "major announcements," and "huge surprises in store."
Nevertheless, even more news surfaced to support these new theories, this time coming from Spike TV representative David Schwartz:
"We are looking to broadcast a number of expanded TNA telecasts throughout the year in place of TNA Reaction."
Perhaps this means Spike TV will allow Impact to run over five or so minutes the same way WWE RAW does. Or perhaps this means that Impact would get some three hour specials (like RAW). Who knows?
At any rate, fans are once again expected to sit patiently on pins and needles waiting anxiously for an announcement on the future of an hour of pro wrestling programming that once followed Impact.
To be more specific, fans are expected to wait for an announcement on the future of Impact; ReAction and its former time slot is inconsequential at this moment because the show has been "cancelled."
Carter's statements alone provide us with several opportunities to speculate on either side of the fence. There are still some very poignant statements to be made, however, in order to put her positive spin on this setback into proper perspective.
For starters, Carter goes on the defensive by claiming that TNA knew from the beginning that ReAction wouldn't last going into 2011. One's initial thought could be that TNA didn't even have faith in it's own show from the onset to shoot for a contract that lasted longer than a few episodes.
We must remember that ReAction debuted in April 2010, slated to begin its run on Thursday nights in June. Much to our surprise, the program was pulled from Spike TV's June line-up. The next time ReAction was mentioned was in August when it was announced that the show would air after Impact on Thursday nights.
This debunks the notion that TNA lacked faith in its own programming, as the show was probably initially slated to run from at least June until the end of the year, perhaps even into 2011. But Spike TV pulled the program from its line-up. Why?
In between June and July, Spike TV aired episodes of it's "revolutionary" series, Half Pint Brawlers. The show was essentially focused on the zany antics of a traveling crew of little people wrestlers (the word "midget" is apparently controversial, so I won't use it here).
Spike TV altered it's Thursday night line-up to present Half Pint Brawlers to viewers as an original series. Unfortunately, ReAction was the sacrificial lamb necessary to make this happen. Hell, even Impact was forced to pander this crap.
Half Pint Brawlers lasted for nine episodes, and at its conclusion left a hole in the Thursday night Spike TV schedule. Guess what show was still available until the end of the year?
This brings new light to Dixie's comments; ReAction was never envisioned to last past 2010 because Spike TV never had any intentions for it to be a permanent fixture in their Thursday night line-up. For all it's worth, ReAction was a last minute addition to fill a hole in the programming schedule; it was a mid-season replacement, if you will.
This is how Dixie Carter and David Schwartz were able to make statement's regarding Impact's future, because both TNA and Spike TV realized respectively the necessity for (a) more exposure to TNA's product and (b) something to fill up the hour after Impact.
Carter's comments, as well intentioned as they are, come off being more vague and misleading than anything else. TNA and Spike TV knew all along that new episodes ReAction wouldn't go beyond last night, but Spike TV also opted out of asking TNA for more new episodes going into 2011.
In other words, Spike TV wasn't interested in more episodes of ReAction; that's essentially what Schwartz said when making the comment, "We are looking to broadcast a number of expanded TNA telecasts throughout the year in place of TNA ReAction."
Spike TV wasn't sold on ReAction from the beginning, and are not sold on it now. But, at least they're working with TNA to produce "expanded TNA telecasts." Notice no mention of "new, original TNA programming."
Just when everything seems right with the TNA galaxy, along comes Eric Bischoff to give fans a somewhat different perspective on the "cancellation" of the show. During his Monday Night Mayhem interview from December 27th, Bischoff had this to say when questioned about the future of ReAction:
"We found out toward the second-to-last day of the TV tapings we had, and Spike had decided to make a different programming decision and go in a different direction. The ReAction you see on the 30th will be the last ReAction."
Anyone with at least two toes and a Big Boss Man ice cream bar can easily see that Bischoff's statements are slightly different than Carter's.
There was no hope in what Bischoff said. There was no sign of anxious anticipation towards the new year. What Bischoff said was very straight to the point, devoid of any emotion, and most importantly more accurate and spot on than what Dixie Carter stated.
The other important point in Bischoff's comments is the fact that unlike Carter, he and at least a few others (he used the word "we") didn't know that ReAction had been "cancelled" until the two days before the end of their TV taping schedule for 2010.
So the question begs to be asked, what role does Eric Bischoff play in the company if he's not privy to information Dixie Carter knew months ago? If my memory serves me correctly, Bischoff was one of the proponents of the show, and along with Jason Hervey, serves as the creative force behind and executive producer of the show.
And you mean to tell me that Bischoff was one of the last people to hear that the show wasn't going to be renewed for another year?
It would seem that there is a lack of communication within entities in the company. When the lines of communication break down, confusion and chaos are not too far behind.
This is why TNA's loss of ReAction is more important than what we think, and why Carter's empty promises are just that.
TNA has lost a show that furthered the story lines shown during Impact; it has lost its second televised prime time show on U.S. television (it's primary market); it has lost an hour of precious time to showcase its talent and product to a wide array of viewers.
While we wait and gleefully speculate on what could happen, it's honestly very debatable whether TNA and Spike TV at this point have any clue of what they're going to do with Impact next year. How many more "announcements" do we have to wait for?
These kinks in TNA's weathered armor also show that the company lacks direction. Carter's and Bischoff's comments show that in regards to ReAction, the two are on two different pages. With Bischoff being a driving force behind ReAction, we can undoubtedly say that the man is much more than just on-screen talent for TNA.
Whatever Bischoff's role is in the company, we know that his wishes and desires for TNA may not be the exact same as Carter's. Citing his Monday Night Mayhem interview once more, Bischoff made it known that his personal opinion was that Impact needed to go on the road. He never made any mention of that being TNA's intentions.
What exactly are we waiting for? TNA has lost ReAction on Spike TV, they've lost their television station in the UK, their top star (Jeff Hardy) is facing serious jail time, and the only thing fans have to look forward to in 2011 from the company are "announcements."
For the sake of the company, for the sake of its fans and fans of pro wrestling, I hope one of those "announcements" is one that will see a solid direction for the company's growth.
If not that, can we at least get everyone on the same page?
Breaking News: TNA ReAction Is Done, Tonight Is the Final Episode by Colin McAndrew