07 January 2014

The Kick-Starter U.K. Tour is Approaching!

I get very excited every year for the annual TNA U.K./European Tour.  I don't know what it is.  This is the 3rd year in a row that I have gotten this pumped up.  I'm sure part of it is that this will be the 3rd consecutive time it's been taped for TV and we can all actually see it worldwide.  Given that this is the "Maximum IMPACT Tour VI", that means the first 3 years we were mainly able to only read about how successful the tour had previously been (and I believe there were some video clips).  I'd see surprisingly large crowds from England in pictures posted online and think to myself, "Hmmmmm....that's interesting that the fan-base is so strong over there.  I wish I could see that on TV."  Well, lo and behold, the wish of myself and many came true in 2012 and the U.K. Tour just keeps getting bigger and better with each passing year.

Funny lil' side-note, the first pro-wrestling column I ever wrote was in fact about that first televised TNA UK Tour.  It seems somewhat nostalgic to go back now each year and type some thoughts about it before it arrives.  According to most peoples' estimates, by the time TNA returns to the U.S. in February it will have completed a house show in Dublin, taped 6 episodes of IMPACT in Glasgow, Manchester and London and shot a ONO PPV in Birmingham.  That's a GIGANTIC amount of TV/PPV production, travel and wrestling in a short amount of time in the United Kingdom and Ireland!  I personally am all for so much being done there as the fans in attendance are loyal, energized and enthusiastic TNA fans.  They deserve to have important events because, let's be honest, the U.K. is where the best group of TNA fans reside.

Now, as a special treat, the Glasgow show is going to be shot LIVE for the U.K. audience on January 30th, which is ground-breaking.  The fact that we get to watch the show later on that night in the States has most American TNA fans doing a joyous celebration dance.  All these things that I have mentioned in the last 2 paragraphs don't sound like things that a "failing company" does.  This U.K. Tour means a lot to TNA and it has became a true kick-starter for the entire year.  Many are enjoying the current direction of the company right now.  Think about how "over" the performers are going to be in front of these fantastic U.K. crowds!  Can you imagine the reaction for the newly crowned World Champion Magnus?  It's going to blow the roof off of the building (regardless if it's a heel or face reaction).  Throw in the antagonist Chief of Staff Rockstar Spud, the heelish, rich pretty boy EC3, and the southern debutante Aunt D and I guarantee you that Team Dixie is going to garner a major reaction there.  

However, it's not just about Team Dixie.  It's also about Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Bad Influence, Chris Sabin, Gail Kim, etc., etc., etc.  The fans in the U.K. really know the TNA roster and seem to just "tell it like it is".  You cannot bullshit them.  It's an effective litmus test to see what works and what doesn't.  It's a similar effect that going to the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC would do for TNA.  The U.K. fans are invested in the performers and wrestlers.  The LIVE crowd becomes a tangible character.  By the time all these U.K. IMPACT episodes are shot, the creative team should have a more definitive idea of what the company's direction will be until Bound For Glory.  I really believe this international tour is THAT important.  Ask Jeremy Borash how important this tour is.  Ask Dixie Carter.  Ask most people in TNA.  They will tell you that it is ultra-important to them.    

I can also see this tour of the United Kingdom serving as a motivational boost to the wrestlers.  After returning to the confines of a Universal Studios sound-stage (and it's mostly burned-out crowd), it will be refreshing for them to be in front of big, loud, reactive crowds.  There is an extra amount on anti-TNA sentiment out there lately on the IWC; more than usual with the reported Jeff Jarrett & AJ Styles departures.  Hopefully, this tour will serve as a time when none of that will matter and the company will just put on great shows and block it all out.  If I had to bet, I would say that the perception of TNA will be more positive after these U.K. shows air on TV.     

There will also be some first-timers on this 2014 Tour, such as EC3, Lei'D Tapa, and Samuel Shaw (and perhaps a debuting American Wolves team?).  It will be very interesting to see how the crowds react to Tapa and Shaw in particular.  I'm pretty sure that EC3 will get a nice reaction as he is looking more and more like a superstar with each passing day.  The momentum that could be generated from these shows could be just what the doctor ordered when it's all said and done.  The 8 shows shot at Universal Studios in November & December should soon seem like a distant memory as TNA will reportedly not be retuning there upon returning to the United States.  It appears that some of the hate-filled, slanderous reports regarding TNA's future are beginning to be proven wrong.  I have faith that TNA will survive and you should as well.  They have some major shows coming up and by Lockdown everything should make a lot more sense.

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