30 March 2014

The Identity of TNA is Becoming More Defined

I am really surprised by how well this new direction that TNA has taken is resonating with me.  For those that actually know me, you know that I don't always like everything that TNA puts in front of me every single time that they have a show (contrary to popular belief).  I am not a "fanboy".  I don't think you guys consider yourselves to be "fanboys" either.  I will tell you if I think something is wrong (in my opinion) or if I don't like something, but it's true that I am a fairly optimistic person.  I form my own opinions and don't let the dirtsheets and "pundits" dictate how I should feel about TNA and it's product.  Being independent of the popular mind-set that circulates the IWC: it's like deeply breathing in fresh mountain air that isn't trapped in a stale office building and recirculated over and over again until all of the bacteria and microscopic debris in said building make it nearly impossible to breath properly.  I'm not putting myself on a pedestal, I'm simply expressing my metaphorical experience of what "not buying into the anti-TNA negativity" is like to me.  That being said, I believe that the company is on the precipice of turning a MAJOR corner with their product.  What an exciting time to be a TNA fan!. 

You are seeing this company grow-up before your very eyes.  Look at all the character development!  EC3, Kenny King, Knux, Rockstar Spud, Willow, Samuel Shaw and others.  They are all delivering a character-centric portion of the product that fans are investing in.  Of course there is much more to TNA than just these men, but it's quite evident that these 6 characters in particular have really taken off (some since BFG, and some more recently).  They are settling in to their niche nicely and that has, in turn, helped to elevate the entire company. 

It's clear that TNA is willing to present things that other companies may shy away from.  These adult-oriented themes are something that Bully Ray alluded to in recent interviews.  It's a sound strategy and one that should produce results.  Focusing on younger performers is long overdue, even if it costs them a little bit initially in ratings and attendance.  It's clear that the WWE has completely cornered the market on the children-focused sports entertainment realm of the business.  That's fine.  They can have their John Cena and Scooby Doo and other cartoonish items.  TNA is moving towards a product that adults can enjoy and not feel foolish about watching on a weekly basis.  IMPACT needs to continue to utilize their TV-14 rating, push the envelope and keep focusing on engaging adults.  These characters such as a Vegas party king, a horror movie villain, a psychotic alter-ego, etc. are best for business right now.

Those character-laden parts of the show combined with the potential revitalization of the more WRESTLING-driven parts of the show should make for a nice balance of both worlds.  The Wolves, Tigre Uno and Sanada are key pieces in the tag team scene and/or X-Division ranks.  Add in a rumored Young Bucks (Gen-Me) team, bring back Manik full-time, get contributions from ex-TNA guys like Petey Williams and Sonjay Dutt and then things are really looking up (hopefully Bad Influence can re-sign with TNA also).  It's become an annual occurrence to see a concentrated focus on the X-Division leading up to Destination X.  So the closer we get to June, the more likely we are to see more X-Division-type wrestlers appearing in TNA.  I'm hoping that TNA will sign one or 2 of the participants from this annual X-travaganza to create more depth and security for that title going forward.  Craig Hermit wrote a great piece on the Tag Team Division, so instead of repeating a lot of what he said (which I agreed with), simply read his POV as I enjoyed it thoroughly.

So what is missing?  This refined identity of having compelling characters and a revitalizing of the X-Division & Tag Team Division is nice but not all-encompassing.  The main event scene seems pretty much set with the real contenders for Magnus being Roode, Joe, Bully and perhaps a returning Angle (I'm hoping for Austin Aries to be included too).  Yes, EY and Abyss are in a Heavyweight Title match on Thursday but their time in the World Title picture seems short-lived.  What about the mid-card?  You can't bring in guys who aren't currently main-eventers, but aren't necessarily tag team or X-Division players either, without dangling some kind of carrot in front of them.  Knux, Bobby Lashley, Kenny King, EC3 and others need to have a secondary title to work towards.  Ideally, they'd bring the TV Title back but it seems to remain a distant memory or after-thought.  So do they just hang out until the BFG Series begins?  That mid-card situation needs to be addressed and rectified.  And yes, we are all aware that the Knockouts Division still needs some tweaking.  I am confident that the women will get the division back where it needs to be.  One thing I will advise fans in this regard is to not get so obsessed with one particular woman coming in that you lose focus of what is actually going on in the ring.  TNA management will bring in who they feel is worth bringing in, and they already know who is out there.  The constant campaigning for one particular woman is getting borderline annoying right now.
The things I have just outlined are my thoughts and speculation on the emerging identity of TNA.  However, an obviously more defined identity will soon be provided by the TNA Executive Vice President, Mr. John Gaburick, next Thursday before IMPACT airs.  In unprecedented fashion, the man that we understand is basically calling the shots for the current product is going to field questions from the fans.  It's amazing how transparent TNA is when it comes to interacting with their audience.  Whether it's signing autographs, taking pictures with fans or talking to show-goers at LIVE events, PPV weekends and IMPACT tapings OR something else like this extensive Q & A session with upper management, TNA knocks it out of the park.  Dixie Carter has also done these Q & A sessions with her previous #AskDixie Twitter events (which is something that the competition attempts to mimic and fails doing so).  By the time the Big John Q & A video is over, I'm sure we will have a better idea about how Big feels about the company he works for and where things really stand with TNA going forward.  Also, I suspect he will squash some of the bogus rumors that the dirtsheets have put out in recent weeks and months.  TNA is not running and hiding from their critics and nay-sayers.  Instead, they are taking them head-on and informing us all on the actual facts.  That's something I can absolutely respect after wading though a pool of negativity (most of the IWC) that has become very tiresome and discouraging.  So please, Big John, wrap up TNA's identity in a nice lil' package and put a bow on top for us.

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