In some ways it's hard to believe that 2016 is finally almost here. The holiday season usually seems to fly by but for TNA fans, time has been crawling at a painstakingly snail-like pace since the PopTV deal was announced. Now that the World Title Series has been paused until the final 3 matches happen on January 5th, we must wait for a couple more weeks until a new, LIVE show quenches our collective thirst. Until nearly a week ago, we assumed we would get 2 more Destination America episodes or recap shows to cap off their agreement. Then, it seemed like they were scrapped. Now we know that those 2 remaining episodes will air on PopTV as "Impact, Best of 2015" shows and serve as an introduction for a new and/or returning audience to the current product. This is a very smart strategy to have these two lead-in type shows on a new network proceeding their big January 5th debut. The Destination America relationship obviously went sour near the end of their deal and it's interesting that neither TNA or D.A. have said a word about each other since Wednesday. It's the silent parting that speaks volumes. Good riddance to an ugly 2015 on a channel that, in retrospect, was not a good fit for Impact Wrestling. So looking into the New Year on PopTV, I have 4 basic requests. They are all feasible and realistic, but will require long-term planning and change. So here they are:
1. Bram needs to have a big push, either in the King Of The Mountain scene (assuming TNA is actually planning to have a KOTM scene) or in a tag team with Eric Young. I'd venture to say that if it wasn't for Bram's brush up with the law a few months back, he was probably in line to challenge for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at some point in 2016. Now, that kind of scenario will take some extra time and also require a regaining of trust between Impact Wrestling and The Chesterfield Plague. In the meantime, why not give him a trial run with this secondary title or the tag titles? The idea of Roode feuding with Bram has been thrown around here at TNAMecca in the past few weeks and the potential of said feud makes me downright giddy. Two hard-hitting wrestlers like this in the prime of their careers going at it on a weekly basis? Yes, please. The other viable idea in giving Bram some direction is pairing him with EY. It really is a natural fit when you consider their similarly deranged characters, bearded looks and their shared disregard for damaging others. Also, they both are legit scary when their eyes bug out as they scream barbarically. Impact Wrestling needs tag teams. This is a logical tag team to create with 2 of your best performers. The tyranny and destruction of a Bram/EY reign as tag team champions would be so awesome. I can see it now. Then the eventual break-up and feud between these two...wow...think about it! Beard Vs Beard match anyone? If this tag team doesn't materialize at some point it will go down as one of the biggest missed opportunities in recent memory. One way or another, give Bram a legit push. NOW.
2. Each division needs a fair amount of time. This sounds like a broken record kind of argument but it's still worth pointing out again as we start anew on PopTV. When the KOTM title was brought in (or back in this form, however you want to look at it), in some ways it made sense because a secondary belt is a good thing if used properly. In another way, though, it made me cringe a little bit because there already is not enough time for the KnockOuts, Tag Teams and X-Division during a routine episode of Impact. So how do you allocate time for each division while not making it cumbersome and unnatural? That's for the writers and creative team to figure out, but it can be done if they rotate things correctly on a bi-weekly basis. Of course the World Heavyweight Title scene needs some development every week. That is obviously the constant. The rest of the divisions need to have a match or segment every other week at least. Ideally, we'll have some great, young talent come in to the company and provide a freshness and some depth to the roster in order to rejuvenate everything. I want great matches and I want each belt to mean something. Each division needs to be featured in 2016 and you can't have multiple weeks in a row where one division doesn't have anything happen in it and becomes forgettable. Commit to featuring each division consistently, please.
3. All 3 big Pay-Per-Views (I've given up on there being 4) need to be LIVE and on the road. Those three PPV's are LockDown, Slammiversary and Bound For Glory. I remember when I first starting watching TNA, one of the things that really drew me in was the important feel of the live Pay-Per-View events. They usually had fantastic cards and you actually felt like you were paying for something exclusive that you could not get for free on TV. I understand that the dynamic of the traditional PPV has changed over the years but giving us a watered down, taped version of LockDown for free? That's unacceptable in my opinion. I get the old "more eyeballs see it" theory but it takes away from the unique and special feel when you do that. I will never agree that having one of these three larger events on free TV is a good idea. The matches cannot breath and unfold like they need to. The commercials cut the show down to more like 1 1/2 hours or less. It is just not good all the way around. If you want people to invest themselves in the product, you need to give us at least 3 big PPV's to look forward to that are not available on Impact for free and taped well in advance. Please never have these 3 PPV's in the Impact Zone ever again. It's very simple. Take these three special events on the road and give the fans what they want. The more Impacts on the road, the better also but I won't get off topic and show my greedy side too much.
4. Give us a hook. Ideally, several of them. The World Title Series was a necessity given the circumstances at the end of 2015. However, the lack of storylines has made me very eager for them to return in full force on PopTV. You can only get so far on quality wrestling alone. There are promotions out there where that is their forte; little to no storylines and just pure wrestling. That is not TNA's modus operandi. Of course they have excellent pro wrestlers that can deliver in the ring, but they are capable of much more. Going to a network where soap operas are heavily featured, you'd figure that we can count on there being some excellent cliffhangers and many storyline-driven feuds. The table will be mostly set after the January 5th and 12th Impacts for the next few of months of programming. I'm licking my chops in anticipation of what will unfold for Impact Wrestling in 2016. The debuts and returns will potentially be great, but it's what they do with those performers and their current roster that will make people tune in week after week. The possibilities are very exciting. You can feel the anticipation and eagerness emanating from the loyal TNA fan base. It's almost here! Now, please provide some high-quality shows in order to entice those fans that stopped watching at some point. Draw in those casual and new viewers that will tune in to Impact during this first month on PopTV. Hook 'em in like an old Latino grandma watching her telenovelas. They have a golden opportunity to increase the viewing audience significantly and create an "appointment television" feel with this move to PopTV. If they stay true to who they are they can knock this out of the park.
So those are the 4 items on my checklist. What are your 4 items? What 4 things would you outline for TNA in 2016? Talk to me.