If you live in a part of the world that experiences all four seasons of the year, then you would probably start to visualize some of the typical attributes when thinking of the spring season. By the time that spring comes around, most people have grown tired of the snow and cold and dreariness that winter can bring. It's such a welcomed sight to see the temperatures start to slowly rise and the first signs of green come alive in trees and plants. Spring is also a traditional time to do some deeper cleaning and organizing around the house and yard. This is a very appropriate analogy for what is currently happening in TNA (or Impact Wrestling or whatever the name is going to officially be at some point). March 2nd is technically more than 2 weeks before the official first day of spring, but regardless, it feels like a fresh, renewed start for the company. The new ownership team, the new logo, the new creative team, the extremely diminished roles for Dixie Carter and John Gaburick, (perhaps a different announcer ?), the return to Soundstage 21, etc., etc., etc. It all feels like a new start, and trust me, I know TNA fans have talked about new starts ad nauseum over the years. This time it is a different situation though. Six months ago if you would have been told that there would be new ownership which would, in turn, rehire a regime of Jeff Jarrett, Dutch Mantel, Scott D'Amore (and less known Kevin Sullivan), not many fans would have believed it. However, this is reality and most fans are genuinely pleased and optimistic about the reconnection to those particular roots of the promotion. These Impact tapings starting on Thursday will serve as a barometer for what the vision of this group will be moving forward. It needs to be an improved product and there needs to be some buzz generated. It's unfortunate that we do not get to witness a LIVE edition of Impact on March 2nd, as the final bits of the January tapings will air instead. This planning of the Impact episodes definitely leaves a sour taste but it is what it is. Starting with the shows that will air on March 9th (at least that's when I gather that the new shows begin) and moving forward, I believe we are in for a treat.
I don't expect a dramatic change in how the show looks aesthetically and production-wise (although some modifications would be welcomed), but the actual wrestling and booking needs to be improved and tightened up. Those are the pressing issues right now. Double J, Dutch and D'Amore are a vastly different decision making unit in comparison to those of recent years. The unique dynamic of this team working in TNA previously and then going away for multiple years (minus the Jarrett GFW invasion angle and TNA HOF induction) and then coming back under new ownership, is kind of mind-boggling if you really think about it. You may not like everything that this team has done in the past, but I would like to think that they will come back in with a methodical and quality plan of attack. They have had more than adequate time to strategize and also observe the talent and storylines. I'm going to remain optimistic about where things could go from here, but I also will stay as objective as possible. It is somewhat difficult to not be skeptical as a TNA fan when a situation like this rears its head due to all of the reboots and relaunch efforts of the past which were spearheaded by Dixie Carter. Most of those fell flat or were anticlimactic let downs or just simply had no staying power. Again, the difference here this time is that Dixie has had her decision making capacity taken away. That should at least cause you to look at it as a different situation since that represents a new era with Anthem, and thus a "final decision maker" restructuring for the first time in more than a decade. Now, whether the new regime actually delivers or not is a different question. I really hope that they can demonstrate that things are indeed different and improved now and that they can make Impact the show that it has always had the potential to be.
Now, let's be real. This impending reboot potentially could also fall flat and we have to at least consider that this may happen. Obviously I don't want that to happen but until I see the evidence of some tangible improvement, I find myself a bit jaded. Not everything hinges on what happens this week but some fans are going to quickly become apathetic if the show doesn't become substantially better. The ratings are dipping down into semi-dangerous levels in the past few weeks. So it is vitally important to get off to a great start with these March TV tapings. They have some great talents that are just not being properly utilized. Take Eli Drake for example. This man should be in the TNA Heavyweight Title scene and instead he has been booked to take pinfall after pinfall. He does receive a significant amount of screen time but he could be so much more if they would take the handcuffs off. Eli having Tyrus as his heavy does nothing for him in my opinion, other than weigh down Drake with that big ol' albatross around his neck. Even if and when they break up, does Eli getting a win over Tyrus mean that much? I have also not been a fan of the Braxton, Laurel and Allie stuff. This Maria/Allie snail-like storyline has gone on for so long that I stopped caring about it months ago. Allie is a great talent and I advocated for her to be in TNA, so don't get it twisted. She just needs to move on to better things though. Brandi Rhodes should absolutely not have any more matches on Impact until she receives more training. I get it that she is a package deal with Cody but her wrestling is an abomination right now. Some weeks the DCC looks strong, and other weeks they look like jobbers. How are we to make sense of them? The Josh Barnett thing has also looked forced and somewhat misplaced. Now, he and Lashley may end up having a decent match and it may get a few extra eyeballs on the show, but was it really worth it to take the World Title in this direction? I don't understand the point or the logic of bringing Barnett in unless you were going to advertise and promote it as a big deal. It has not been treated that way. So, in the end, it probably will be looked at in retrospect as nothing more than filler and/or a footnote in TNA history.
The focus of this new regime needs to be on the wrestlers that can deliver the goods. The ownership, management and creative team are now in order. The attention should subsequently turn to the roster. This Davey Vs Eddie feud is going to be awesome. Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett should have a great series of X-Division matches. Rosemary is golden and can work with anyone. There are some other really good feuds brewing and some potentially great things on the horizon. And then on the other hand you have guys like Shera, Grado, Robbie E and Tyrus who need to be shelved. I understand that there are contracts that you can't just wave a magic wand at and make them disappear. That being said, Grado not appearing on the last set of tapings was such a breath of fresh air. I don't think many people missed him...at all. Shera's tenure seems to be directly tied into their India TV deal with Sony Six so that may be an unwinnable situation but maybe they can put him on the back-burner until the India TV tapings become more realistic? Otherwise, he adds nothing to the product at all. I've been really patient about Robbie E over the years also, but I cannot figure out his value either besides being a midcard jobber. I get it that he has been loyal to TNA and he is not terrible in the ring, but Robbie mentioning in the recent past about possibly being a future World Heavyweight Champion is laughable. Jessie Godderz and DJ Z are the ex-BroMans that are worth focusing on, and that is obvious. To me, Tyrus is a total waste of time and money. He is tortoise-slow and lazy in the ring and his move set is so limited and monotonous that I almost can't believe my eyes at times. Caleb Konley, Mike Bennett and Sienna are all talents that have been underutilized. If you add in a highly demanded Zenshi signing or maybe bring Jimmy Havoc back, either man could generate some buzz amongst the fans. They are affordable wrestlers that can deliver. Unless CM Punk ever decides to give TNA a chance, please forget about "bringing in a big name". It's just not worth it. It is time to do some spring cleaning. There are critical decisions to be made. Out with the old and in with the new. Hopefully things can get shined up a bit starting this week. You know that really satisfying feeling you get after your home is really clean and smelling good? I'd like to have a similar feeling about Impact Wrestling but you have to do more than just spray a can of Febreze on a hot mess.