Following in 2010's footsteps, TNA Wrestling had another transitional year after being rebranded to Impact. From airing shows on the road rather than the Impact Zone in Orlando, to the Immortal heel group dominating the story lines, the company was at a make or break year in 2011.
At the end of 2011, TNA quietly achieved success that has proved the Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff era was not a failure, but rather as a signal of growth for the company. There was a reason why TNA resigned Hogan and Bischoff and now, it could be clear why.
According to TNAsylum, TNA had its biggest ratings year in company history during 2011 TNA averaged a 1.17 (rounded up to a 1.20) cable rating in 2011, outshining its previous high of 1.15 in 2009. The previous year in 2010, TNA averaged a 1.11 rating on Thursday nights.
Despite criticism ranging from its booking style to having aging veterans featured more in story lines, TNA managed to reach new heights in 2011. Not only did it achieve its highest ratings in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom—becoming the No. 1 most watched wrestling program. (In the U.K, TNA is on a free channel rather than a subscription). Also, TNA ventured outside the Impact! Zone, which drew praise from fans to providing a great atmosphere for enjoyable television and large crowds.
With Bischoff and Hogan with TNA for 2012—alongside with some changes to the booking team—can company can continue its rise in the ratings?
Just like 2011, 2012 is another make or break year for TNA.
I have had my own share of disagreements with TNA's approach, but seeing how the ratings went from a 1.11 average in 2010 to a 1.17, it should be a feel good moment for the company. With Hogan and Bischoff currently taking a backseat—alongside Immortal's presence—TNA is focusing on the younger talent to take them into 2012.
The fact is, despite fans cry for help, Bischoff and Hogan were positive in one major area: getting TNA on the road. I expect TNA to expand more by producing shows on the road.
They produced good sized crowds and the TV excitement was at a much higher level. It is right for TNA to promote heavily on its younger talent to introduce them so if they do go on the road as often, they can still garner a big reaction from the crowd.
Should be an interesting 2012.