26 March 2017

Bright Start to the Anthem Era


This is MisterTNA speaking…..and after being away almost 2 years, I have come home to TNAMecca. When I departed this site in September 2015, it was because while the TNA product was still at a decent level, the rest of the company seemed to have stopped and began rotting. Management seemed content to never leave the Impact zone for TV tapings again, issues with talent and pay were becoming more and more regular, the live event schedule began to shrink until it became non-existent and yet another TV network were unhappy with TNA and about to drop them from their deal. As someone fighting in the trenches trying to keep TNAMecca a positive community for TNA fans, it ate away at me until I couldn’t do it anymore.


After I left TNAMecca and stopped keeping tabs on TNA, things just seemed to get worse. 2016 was the leanest and probably worst year in company history. Let me be clear that is no knock on the talent that featured or writers involved in the product during that time. When I fell out of love with TNA I was resigned to the fact that no matter how hard the talent worked, and no matter how good the booking for the promotion was, the company was stuck in a hole that they couldn’t get out of because of the mismanagement of the other aspects of the promotion, the only chance TNA had was major changes taking place at the very top. After some very scary situations that change finally came, and hope was restored for the promotion. From what’s happened so far, it’s been enough to relight my love of Impact, and bring me back home to TNAMecca.

Anthem purchased TNA and straight away acted quickly in making changes, paying off massive debts owed to other entities, removing the old management from their positions of power and re-structuring the management with familiar faces coming in to take the company forward. Since the takeover Anthem Executive Ed Nordholm has become Impact Wrestling President, and negotiated to bring TNA founder and former minority owner Jeff Jarrett back as Chief Creative Officer. Right away that is a solid move, Anthem obviously wanted one of their own to run the company, however they’ve identified the need to bring in someone to be in a top position that knows the wrestling business inside and out, and can be left in-charge of the booking of the company while Nordholm can focus on the business side of Impact. With Jarrett’s long history with the company, and how he ended up on the outside looking into the company he created, there’s also that personal desire to right those wrongs and so it should have been his kingdom to rule all along. The relationship between Impacts top two men seems to be strong, with the two already taking a trip to the UK to get things back on track in that market and then heading to Mexico to finalize a deal to begin a working agreement with AAA just over two months into their reign, it seems this combination running Impact is meant to last and prosper.

While Nordholm seems to be invested and hands on in the company, recently in India finalizing plans for shows in May, he also looks to know when to give Jarrett his trust to bring in the right people to help run the product, with Jarrett calling his long time associates Dutch Mantell to return as Head of Creative, and Scott D’Amore as Vice President of International Development as well as a member of the creative team. Both of those additions are great grabs for Impact. Those three, Jarrett, Mantell & D’Amore, were arguably the most successful creative team in Impacts history, they know how to book and they’ll have a clear vision of where they want the product to go and how to get there. The March batch of tapings and probably the next set in April will be more about getting things creatively back in order and positioning things for what they want to do building up to Slammiversary, but while it’s early days the signs are there that things are going in the right direction.

While bringing in people to head the creative direction of the promotion is key, it looks like Anthem are investing in other aspects of the company to get them back on track. Kevin Sullivan has come back as Vice President of Production, another great return for Impact as Kevin is a hell of a talent in production, being responsible for some of Impact’s greatest promo packages and segments, his influence is already being seen as graphically Impact is looking very sharp indeed, the LAX clubhouse video’s have been great and the new show intro is fantastic. Don West is back running ShopImpact and all's right with the world. West could sell hay to a farmer, which is exactly why he is the man you want in charge of your merchandise department, that’s what Jarrett will have said and that’s what Anthem have thankfully managed to do. D’Amore while back in creative is also as I mentioned the new VP of International Development, which is a great role for him. He’s a cultured man in the industry with an eye for talent and a great reputation with anyone who’s done business with him, he’s helped broker a working relationship with NOAH in Japan and will most likely be in-charge of recommending who Impact brings over to work shows for them from the promotions they already have agreements with. With Impact quickly doing the rounds and getting deals with CRASH, NOAH & AAA, it's good to have D’Amore overseeing potential international talents they can use, especially because of his involvement in booking.

Anthem have also quickly resolved the situation in the U.K, one of the biggest markets for Impact in previous years, initially with the Total Access app and now the deal with Spike to get Impact back on British TV. It's fantastic that they’ve been able to get a deal done so quickly into their reign in charge, and to have it air less than 24 hours after the U.S. premiere is even better, something myself and others campaigned for years ago during the high point of the Impact - Challenge partnership. Jarrett has also said he’ll be in the UK again this week, hinting that a UK tour will happen this year, another major event that was initially missing from the calendar. You have to give credit to the new hierarchy, the poor management previously left Impact’s standing in the UK isolated, thankfully with a deal to get back on air and intentions to tour the UK ASAP, they’re righting the wrongs and moving things in a positive direction. Another international market that’s getting some love is India. It was said over a year ago Impact would tour the country, as it was said their broadcaster Sony Six wanted tapings to keep the relationship strong, however with issues within at the time the tour was cancelled. Again thankfully with Anthem they acted quickly and got a tour locked in for May, as well as plans to film an Indian based promotion *possible Ring Ka King reboot* by the end of the year. Again great news as it gives Impact a new setting, keeps a great partner in a massive market happy and also more income from Sony Six for producing a regional promotion for them.

Something that is rumored to be a priority for Anthem is resurrecting Impact Wrestling’s live events. Live events have been non-existent now for over a year, which seems crazy considering Impact was desperate for revenue last year, no wonder considering there was no ticket revenue coming in and and most likely a massive hit on merchandise sales. Once upon a time the strongest attribute Impact had was its live events, you’d get some great action but more importantly for fans in attendance was the interaction, it would be regular to see someone post online how they got to meet and actually speak to most of the wrestlers working the show, how they’d got several items signed instead of the standard one and how the show felt so interactive with the crowd. Fans would leave Impact live events and not really mention the quality of the wrestling, but would be so ecstatic to have gotten up close and personal with the wrestlers and the positive and friendly experiences they had with them. I’m sure Jarrett will remember this, and it will be the approach Impact takes with relaunching live events, that along with Don West potentially hosting the events again now he’s back are the perfect ingredients to make Impact house shows successful and profitable.

There's a hell of a lot Anthem have done in their first few months in charge, and I've not even discussed the new talent & stroylines that are taking shape. As its only been a few weeks, I think I'll give it a little time before I share my thoughts on those aspects. For me, with the moves that have been made, so far, so good. The company as a whole is rebuilding and getting back on a clear course of where they want to go, and I like where I think things are heading. Time will tell whether the new regime will be successful, but from what I'm seeing there is a real reason to be excited and optimistic if you're an Impact Wrestling fan.



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