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04 April 2014

What We Learned from #AskBig and Dixie


Firstly, I'd like to say again how respectable it was to hear from another member of upper management in TNA.  They really do want to take what the fans ask for into account with their product.  It seems as though Big John Gaburick, TNA Executive Vice President,  and the management group want to recognize  their fans like us (that actually want TNA to succeed).  We at TNAMecca may not all agree on everything here all the time, but that's totally OK because if we all agreed about everything all the time, it would get boring.  We only want fans to be fair and at least open-minded (and hopefully objective) towards TNA and it's current direction.  So let me give you some Big John quotes and paraphrasing and also some summary thoughts of my own from the #AskBig Q & A video session.  Then we'll discuss below in the comment section. 

Introduction:

Firstly, JB clarified with Big that everything was appropriate to ask him and they both pointed out that there were no restrictions.  This was true to a certain extent but of course they didn't allow the necessary, allotted time for there to be EVERY question answered (which is understandable).  My main beef , along with several other people, is that the start time of the event was so unclear.  We were led to believe that they would begin at exactly 8 PM EST.  That didn't happen.  Some of the previous advertising and promotion on Twitter said "an hour before IMPACT" or pointed out specifically an 8PM start-time.  They may go back and delete some of those tweets (and no, I don't care to check), but the facts are that a lot of TNA fans were patiently waiting at 8PM EST to watch this #AskBig video and then waited around for 40 minutes for it to begin.  Mildly frustrated, we waited as it was promoted to be something "to watch BEFORE the episode of IMPACT began".  Nope, instead it was altered to take you right up until IMPACT started (a 20 minute countdown).  It would have been nice to know that.  And now my vent is over.  I know I speak for a lot of us in that frustration that I just outlined. So for that, you're welcome.  A lot of this recap isn't exciting and ground-breaking stuff BUT the six-sided ring topic was of interest, no doubt. 

Key Point #1: New Talent as a Cohesive Unit - Big explained that basically they want new young leaders and a cohesive team.  We already have heard this from Dixie Carter and others but it's still good to have reiterated as it's nice to have upper management on the same page too.  If he had said something different than the normal narrative in this regard, only then would I be shocked.  No surprises here and the core of TNA's current audience seem to be happy with this direction.  This was more of a statement than a question as they were still setting the table here.

Key Point #2: AJ Styles - This was the first real question from Twitter.  Big said they made AJ Styles a fair offer and that Styles chose to go somewhere else.  That is also something we knew previously but it's nice to hear from the horses mouth how accurate it truly was.  The main point here is that Big John was gracious in his comments towards AJ and said that the door was still open for a return.  That makes sense and I personally do still expect AJ back at some point in 2014 or 2015.

Key Point #3: Sting - Again big John was eloquent in his remarks here as the door is also open for Sting.  I suspect that Sting will still get some kind retirement match or official farewell from TNA as there is too much history there to not have that happen.  Most of Sting's active wrestling days are over but presumably TNA still wants to properly thank him for his time there.  He may go to WWE for a short contract but it was obvious to any Sting fan that he cared and still does care about TNA passionately. 

Key Point #4: The X-Division - Another Twitter question here and Big explained how important the X-Division is to TNA.  It's good to hear them at least still expressing that (we'll see however), with him pointing out that many of their X-Division stars have moved up to the Main Event scene in the recent past.  He says they still plan to have it be a showcase for GREAT athletes.  No new information there at all really. 

Key Point #5: KnockOuts - Brittany, The Beautiful People, and 2 Knockouts who had babies (Obviously Madison & Taryn) were mentioned and again no real news.

Key Point #6: Jesse Sorenson - Big felt compelled to point out that TNA's lawyers have never cleared Jesse to wrestle again but that Sorenson's had cleared him.  Typical medical liability procedure there on TNA's part as I don't think some fans realize the legal ramifications involved in the Jesse Sorenson case, even though it's been highly speculated about and even discussed by Jesse in interviews since his infamous neck injury.  They gave him a job and he still wanted to wrestle.  Enough said.  I hope I don't have to hear any more about Jesse in the future, just sayin'.

Key Point #7: (and most revealing and important):   The Six-Sided Ring - This is where things finally got interesting and Big John emphatically said, "You will see the six-sided ring in TNA, I can promise you that. Now, when that is exactly, is a closely guarded secret.  But it is a part of the fabric of who we are here at TNA.  The six-sided ring was part of what actually helped to make TNA.  So I think it will be part of who we are.  Yeah." 
That's pretty much a word for word transcription of what John Gaburick said.  Take that all to mean what you may.  My gut reaction says it won't be back full-time but he didn't necessarily deny that notion either.  So, at the least it will be at Destination X perhaps?  At the very most (and least likely) it could be back full-time.  The more logical and probable middle-ground would be occasionally for special IMPACTs, PPV's and ONO tapings.  Who knows for sure?  It is a secret after all, as he said.  That does cause some buzz amongst TNA loyalists since so many people (including some ex-TNA fans) have been clamoring about that issue for a long time. 

Key Point #8: Morale - Seemed like a fairly generic, yet positive outlook on TNA's morale.  I always hate these types of questions and the answer did nothing to move the meter either way here. 

Key Point #9: Jeff Jarrett - Big explained that Jarrett is no longer involved in day-to-day operations but also reiterated that he is still an owner currently.  He credited Jeff for finding them some international talent.  He expressed that he thinks Jarrett is a great guy and wishes him nothing but the best.
This is interesting as TNA has remained gracious towards Jarrett in all interviews (that come to mind) and have never really bad-mouthed him in public. 

Key Point #10: Creative - He brought up Eric Bischoff, Jason Hervey, the character development with recent vignettes and investing in the TNA characters.  He also complimented the writers, Dave Lagana and Matt Conway.  No breaking news here but still nice to hear him explain who is involved behind the scenes.  Big did say that the "buck stops with him." 

Key Point #11: The Live Events - Gaburick pointed out the emphasis on LIVE events going forward and the implementation of fun things like "The Fist-Pumpin' Pre-Show" with DJ Z and Rockstar Spud hosting it (an hour before each house show starts).  Fan interaction with TNA wrestlers was discussed and Big noted how certain elements of these LIVE events are part of the experience as a "free extra" for the fans in attendance. 

Key Point #12: International Growth - Again, nothing new here.  The great U.K. audience was recognized as was the success of their TV presence in Great Britain.  Also briefly mentioned were Japan, Mexico, India, and Europe in general.  A focus on growing the world-wide audience was stated.  The Wrestle-1 collaboration was quickly discussed as it sounds like that partnership will be on-going for a while.

Key Point #13: The U.S. Market - TNA creating more time for the wrestlers to have audience exposure with #IMPACT365 was pointed out as a strategy geared towards American fans.  Social media campaigns....a somewhat blah and standard company line here.

Key Point #14: Spike TV - Again a very generic, positive response.  Interestingly enough, right before #AskBig aired (while we were diligently practicing making patience a virtue), Dixie Carter tweeted and kind of stole his thunder:


And then as IMPACT ended last night:


And then earlier today:


Back at #AskBig, they wrapped things up and that was that.  So, you tell me.  Who had more impact (pun intended) last night and today?  John Gaburick or Dixie Carter?  It was kind of a jab, jab, right hook combination of both if you ask me, with the trio of announcements/commentary/teases making it all stronger as a complete strategy to create interest.  What do I take from this?  TNA will feature a six-sided ring (either occasionally or full-time) again and Dixie is potentially shopping for new TV partners, either for IMPACT or a 2nd show or both.  Thoughts?

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