04 January 2015

Back In Business

It's safe to say it's been awhile since I last put a column together, but with a new year comes re-prioritization, and after a lot of distractions I can honestly say that in 2015 producing content and running this site along with Chris & Reece is high on my list, and with such great things on TNA's horizon, all hands will be on deck for what will be a big year for both TNA & TNAMecca. With Impact Wrestling's debut on Destination America just days away, my personal excitement levels are pretty high, all thanks to events that have happened in the build-up to this Wednesday's historical event. We all see things differently, so I'm going to go over some of the big happenings that have got us to this point, and maybe a different view-point on some things just might make a little more excited for what is undoubtedly the dawning of a new era for TNA.

Impact Wresting On Destination America – Now you're probably saying I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I've waited until now to make comment as I wanted to give TNA & Destination America time to give us a clear indication of what this relationship will be, and from what I've seen and read, this not just a TV deal, but a very exciting partnership. The relationship here seems to be that both sides want to grow and elevate the other. Discovery realise that TNA have a loyal fan base and can be the centrepiece for a growing station like Destination America, bringing more eyeballs and more attention to the channel as the only established brand the station currently airs. For TNA, they see a network that has been on the rise since its creation two years ago, a network where they can get a lot of focus, already more promotion than they did on their previous network, and be given the opportunity to air more content during the course of the week to meet the needs of what the modern fan desires.

TNA find themselves in a situation they have never been in before, they are a wanted brand by the network, they've gone from being non-existent in any press release or commercial created by Spike to being the first show that is mentioned by Destination America. In this deal everyone wants to help everyone, TNA want to help grow Destination America, Destination America want to help grow TNA, and most importantly Discovery want to grow both entities, and when you have an organisation like that who are in your corner, you can say for sure that this can be a fruitful relationship.

New Impact Wrestling Logo – The more I see it, the more I love it. The new logo looks very sleek, very modern and gives the show/company a real identity. The logo was well overdue an upgrade and this for me has lived up to my expectations, I love the inclusion of the hexagon to symbolise the 6 Sided ring, the ring was/is a big part of TNA's identity, and its inclusion only re-affirms that it will continue to be so going forward. I was hoping there would be a colour change with a new logo, however the blue streak works so I'm cool with it. The font for wrestling could have been bigger, so when a casual fan sees it they know straight away what the logo is for, but from the looks of it the aim with this was to emphasis the brand, and that has been achieved as “Impact” catches your eye almost immediately. I'm expecting this will be followed by an updated TNA logo soon, and my money is it's going to be the logo used on the ShopTNA website, in which case is totally fine. It's an upgrade to make the logo look sleeker and fit in with the style the Impact logo is done in, but sticks with the letter structuring that they have used for many years.

Josh Mathews Joins The Announce Team – Like many have already said, this was probably the worst kept secret of 2014, as most fans called this change weeks, some even months before it was made official, but that shouldn't take away from how big this announcement was. Since day one there has always been a constant in TNA, and that's every Impact or PPV you would tune into, you would be greeted by the voice of Mike Tenay. For over 12 years Tenay has called every major event in TNA, and for that to have come to an end is history in itself. I will be honest, I've been ready for a commentary change now for the last 2 or 3 years, Tenay and Taz never totally clicked for me, and I started to find myself getting frustrated at how unexcited Mike would sound when calling some big moments. I thought a couple of years ago they had found the perfect role for him after adding Todd Keneley as the lead announcer, allowing Tenay to drop back & focus on his knowledge to add more to the characters and stories, but after seeing the alternative they have gone with, I think they couldn't have made a better move (more on that later).

As for Josh Mathews, I think it's a solid replacement for Tenay and expect him to do well in this role. I always expected JB would be the one to replace Tenay, however if I were in charge I would be reluctant, because for him to be able to really focus on the role and do it to the best of his ability, he'd probably have to give up some of the roles he performs, and with him being such a workhorse I wouldn't want to lose him in that respect. Mathews had a good showing at the booth in WWE, but I expect that was just a small taste of what he can do. Many former WWE commentators have stated how hard it is to do your job when someone is in your ear trying to produce you constantly, so in this environment I think Mathews will have more freedom and be allowed to fulfill the role the best he possibly can.

Impact Wrestling: Unlocked - The concept of this show has me very intrigued. This is one example of Destination America wanting to grow TNA by allowing them to add a new show to their portfolio of programming, and it's also a great way to move Mike Tenay out of the commentary booth and into a role where he can be in his element. The show will in a sense be a recap of the previous night's Impact, but will also present exclusive footage captured during the show & bonus commentary to take us deeper into the stories and characters that we are watching develop. Something that has annoyed me for many years is when a portion of the audience claim something doesn't make any sense or has no reason behind it when in reality small hints and signs have been planted on the show for weeks.

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying everyone should spot every small detail during the show, but it's a shame when people miss them and go ahead and tear into a writing team who in most cases have done their job. Unlocked offers the viewer to watch the show again but have these small hints highlighted and Mike Tenay explain things more and give us a better idea of why certain things are going down. With all this taken into account along with Tenay's weekly Top 5 Heavyweight rankings, I know we have yet to see this show, but from the premise of it I think this could be a valuable edition to TNA TV.

Lockdown on Free TV – I was rather surprised when TNA announced this for the January 9 taping in NYC, as Lockdown has always been one of the best performing PPV's for TNA, so for them to move it to free TV is a little odd, or it's hinting that TNA is getting out of the PPV business. If the latter is the case, I will be pretty sad because I've always loved the feel to PPV's, to have a live event that's 3 hours of uninterrupted action and the culmination of several feuds has always been something I've looked forward to in my years of being a wrestling fan, so for that to possibly be over is a rather sombre thought. On the flip side, if TNA aren’t making any real money from PPV's, and all of them are being moved to a mix of live & taped TV specials, then I'd be happy for my American counterparts to get the shows for free as a reward for their loyalty, as well as let those who were previously unable to afford the shows enjoy them with everybody else.

Now personally if that move were to be made, then I'd like them to really be TV specials, meaning they are 3 hours long, limited commercials, on a separate day to Impact and Live more often than taped. If that would be the case, then I would be totally fine with TNA leaving the PPV game. At this time all of the above is speculation, and we'll probably get a better idea for where this is heading the closer we get to Friday's taping. What I do know is Lockdown is traditionally a great event, with every match back in the 6 Sides of Steel, and the main event of Lethal Lockdown, this installment should be no different and deliver for the fans in New York and the worldwide audience watching on TV when it airs.

Re-signing Of Multiple Talents РIt would be hard to try and claim the TNA offices have been quiet the last few weeks after TNA announced the re-signing of 6 talents over the span of 3 days (and one was new years). Its good to see TNA lock up so many talents to new deals going into this new era, and I'm sure the reason they have all come at once is because they halted negotiations until they secured a new TV deal and worked out what budgets they would have at their disposal, although it's a very smart time to make these announcements in the week leading up to the Destination America premi̬re. Here's my quick thoughts on each signing:

Kurt Angle – He claimed it a few weeks ago, but it was good to get confirmation that Angle is staying on board. After all the big names that have departed over the last 12-18 months, it was a wise move for TNA to try and retain Angle going into this new phase of the promotion. Angle is a name both TNA & Destination America can use in promotional materials that quite a few people will remember from both his run in the WWE as well as his Gold Medal win at the 1996 Olympics. I expect Angle will continue his role as Executive VP of Wrestling Operations and wrestle a few matches here and there depending on his physical condition. I also wouldn't be surprised if we see him doing more media work to promote the company and the network and prepare him to move into an ambassador role once he hangs up his boots.

Abyss – While the first half of 2014 may have not been the best time for him, the second half showed the Monster still has something to offer. For me this is more than a talent signing, as Abyss has been working as an agent as well as a wrestler, so keeping someone who can do several jobs is smart on TNA's part, it also ensures my favourite storyline in TNA right now won't be disrupted by a key player's departure, so the Revolution can continue to grow in 2015.

EC3 – Could anyone present a reason why you wouldn't want to re-sign arguably the star of 2014? For me EC3 is set to become TNA World Champion in 2015, so for him to be signed up for however long this deal lasts is great news indeed, and in my opinion the best signing out of the 6 announced.

Jessie Godderz – Jessie has developed over the last 2 years into a decent hand in the ring, and I think he can only get better as time goes on. With Robbie E back from the Amazing Race, I think he and Jessie will be thrown right back into the tag mix and play a big part in the division. With The Wolves probably going after The Revolution, it leaves the window open for the Bro-Mans to challenge the Hardy's, and that could be a feud that establishes the team as a force in the tag team ranks in 2015.

Madison Rayne – While I don't think Madison will play a big role at the top of the KO division this year, having her around will be useful as she can work well with the top names of the division and can also feud with any new Knockouts that come in to put them on the map.

Mr Anderson – While Anderson isn't at the heights he was at a few years ago, I still believe he can play a solid role high up the card. If given the opportunity, I think a feud with him and Kenny King could give his main event career a resurgence and elevate King. With him signed to a new deal, I hope it indicates that TNA has plans for Anderson in 2015, and that those plans will allow him to deliver his best work.

Now that the big stories have been covered, let me get to my summary and share with you all exactly why all these stories and some other factors have come together and made me rather giddy about this Wednesday's show. This Wednesday is the start of a new era, a new era where TNA find themselves partnered with a network that want them, that want to work with them and grow their programming portfolio and the company in general. With a new era comes change, the logo has seen an upgrade, there has been a substitution in the commentary booth, we also have a new way of watching Impact with "Unlocked", and with Dixie Carter and others promising that they will be presenting the show in a new way, as well as more changes that will cause the company to rebrand, it's very exciting to think about whats to come.

The final thing is this, it's good to see that since the new TV deal was signed, 6 talents (a number that will grow tomorrow) are satisfied with what TNA have offered them and they are more than happy to continue with TNA going into this new era. Now some may not think that's significant, but considering all of the cost cutting we have heard about for over a year, seeing TNA meet the financial demands of so many talents makes me smile and think something that has been a distraction backstage is finally behind them, and we as fans no longer have to worry about whether TNA can continue to pay top names when their deals expire. A lot of worries we have had for the last 12 months are now behind us, we can all now focus on what exciting things are to come, and where TNA can go in 2015. We've put up with a lot and stuck by TNA through troubling times, and now our reward is on the horizon, and come Wednesday in New York City, the good times will start to role, because TNA is back in business.

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