17 June 2015

TNA Wednesday Randomania - Jun 17, 2015

If you've been a regular reader of my column, you'll know that I strongly believe that a promotion's status should be judged by the quality of its television program, not its backstage drama or the decisions the higher-ups make. Unfortunately, TNA has been a victim of this. Too many have allowed matters, that shouldn't, affect their enjoyment of the product, particularly in the last year or so. I am not one of them. I've enjoyed the television product quite a bit in that time. However...I feel like my theory has taken a hit in recent weeks and I'll tell you why. The decisions that TNA have made since March have begun to affect the quality of Impact and do so in a way that's quite damaging. Obviously, I'm not privy to the behind the scenes affairs and again, I don't have to be, but I can speak on the way I feel when I watch Impact. And lately, I feel that TNA isn't giving me the whole gamut of the pro wrestling experience - a genre that can inspire with awe or provoke feelings of anger or pure bliss when done right. Unfortunately, TNA isn't coming close right now.

A big reason for that is TNA's decision to tape Impact, and now Slammiversary, at the Impact Zone in Orlando for an extended period of time. What we assumed, back in March, was a short stay has now turned into a series of tapings for episodes of Impact through at least the Summer. It's the sort of decision that's puzzling to me, and although I realize that it's cost-effective for TNA to tape at Universal Studios, I'm not sure I see the long term benefits, especially for viewers. It's clear to anyone who watches Impact on a weekly basis that the Impact Zone, for whatever reason, brings out the worst in TNA creatively, and makes the overall product look like a knockoff of a pro wrestling show. A friend of mine, who watched last week's Impact, commented how it felt like he was watching community theater at the local playhouse where actors were performing skits and stunts. And I agree with him. It's becoming increasingly difficult to suspend my disbelief when watching Impact at the Impact Zone and that has to be the last thing TNA wants to hear. But it's the truth, and it's a consequence of their decision to continue to tape their flagship program in a venue that's a soundstage for television tapings in front of a dead crowd made up of a group of regulars desensitized to the product and a bunch of tourists, many of whom get up and leave midway through the show because they have a craving for a churro.

Some might say another poor decision by TNA is the taping of 7 or 8 episodes of Impact at a time and although I might agree with them in theory, I believe that it's an issue that could be mitigated if each set of tapings was held in a different venue in a different city. Of course, it would present the same challenges as it does now for the writers and wrestlers but recent history has shown us that on-location tapings have elevated TNA creatively simply because they have to sell tickets. In order to attract a crowd, you have to put out a good product and unfortunately, this is one area in which the Impact Zone has been troublesome: it's become a crutch for TNA and I feel that, as a result, it's enabled them to stray from the quality of wrestling and overall television TNA were producing last Summer and earlier this year.

And lastly, tonight is the last taped episode from the last set of tapings and although I'm not at all optimistic that the overall viewing experience will be any better than last week's mess, I'm hoping that TNA can at least give us a reason to be excited for next week's live show and the episodes of Impact to follow. One thing that has me intrigued at least is the Billy Corgan factor, whose influence on the product should be evident with the live show next week and beyond. I say intrigued simply because I'm not sure what to expect from him but based on the interviews he did when he signed with TNA, I'd say that we're in agreement on most of the things he discussed. But I'm curious to see how his vision translates to the television show. Don't get me wrong, I won't dismiss his work after one episode or even one set of tapings but it will give us a good idea on how he sees the future of TNA playing out. What will TNA look like in the Billy Corgan era? The truth is nobody knows but we will soon find out.

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