TNA iMPACT was finally out of the stagnant confines of Universal Studios this week.
In and of itself, the change in venue was refreshing, but the product on display was so far out of touch that one has to wonder if TNA will ever truly "get it" and move to the next level.
The answer is probably a resounding NO.
Looking back to the only two seismic shifts in the wrestling landscape, we can see see just what TNA is doing that it should not do and vice-versa.
When the WWF began its expansion in earnest in 1984, Vince McMahon changed the way pro wrestling looked and felt. The saggy-roped, poorly lit and stuffed shirt presentation of the 1970s were left behind in favor of a flashy 1980s approach that paid attention to the biggest movements in pop culture and broadcasting.
When WCW went head-to-head with Monday Night Raw in 1995, it also changed the game forever in terms of how a wrestling show should look and feel. It was live every week, told different kinds of stories and set a tone that challenged WWE to think outside of the box.
TNA is not trying to change anything. There is no new feel, no new look and no new vision.
How does the company hope to even catch up with the WWE juggernaut and ignite interest if the product looks and feels like the ghost of WCW?
I'm not even talking about the Monday Night Wars era WCW. This week, I felt the presence of early 90's WCW and that's not just disappointing: It's utterly frightening.
The way the crowd was lit, the placement of certain cameras, the decision to allow other cameramen to be seen in a shot and the quick cut-a-ways to fans responding to prompts looked like TBS Clash of the Champions broadcasts from 1989 to 1994, just with a better entrance stage.
Even the guard rails made the product look dated.
But that wasn't all.
The lack of cinematic high-end HD gear made the ring look smaller than usual in the larger arena. Take a look at the optical illusion created by WWE's obscenely expensive cameras and lenses (WWE uses Sony HD cameras with Fujinon lenses if I recall); the ring and venue look huge, while the wrestlers look less like action figures and more like rock stars.
Having a director that knows how to really use the space and shoot the action helps too.
By comparison, TNA's camera and production crew seem like a bunch of high school kids from the audio/video squad.
The choice of venue added to this flashback as well. This is no knock on the the Carolinas, but with the added reminders of dark age WCW production, it was hard to not to let the city references by the wrestlers bring back memories of WCW's regional focus.
Even Sting was there—winning a world title—on a show taped a week ago.
All the show needed was Bobby Eaton's mullet to complete the time warp.
TNA needs to bring their production in line with the times and then from there decide where wrestling is going—not revisit where it's been. Use the screens, pyro or whatever other WWE standards are necessary, but for crying out loud, look ahead rather than behind!
Major shifts in wrestling came as a result of creative responses to a stagnant product. If TNA wants to lead or wants to revolutionize, the company needs to act like it, look like it, BE it.