11 April 2017

The Global Expansion

Men & Women of TNAMecca, this is MisterTNA speaking…in the last few months, changes have been a plenty in the world of TN….sorry, Impact Wrestling. Ownership, management, talent, production, working agreements, TV deals, the list goes on and on. One thing is clear though when you look at everything that is happening, a new vision of what Impact Wrestling is is starting to take shape. To say what it’s exactly going to be is difficult, but there is plenty out there to put together and draw conclusions, and when I’m taking everything into account, I’m seeing a pretty unique picture of where Impact could be heading.  I might be way off, but if things are going the way I’m thinking, it would certainly be exciting times on the horizon.

Since the new regime took over, multiple working relationships have been made with promotions in Japan & Mexico, while co-producing the re-launch of the WOS brand in the UK, and plans in place to launch a promotion in India, but with all these alliances and deals going down so early in this new era, the question is why? Well, the answer might just be what is going to #MakeImpactGreat. There’s a common theme with Impact’s partner promotions, while AAA, NOAH & WOS are all known names in the pro wrestling industry, outside of their respective homeland they are not seen on a TV screen or in an arena.  Impact Wrestling on the flip side airs in over 120 countries and will be touring India and most likely the UK at least this year, and have previously toured Mexico, consistently drawn big crowds in the UK and even held Bound For Glory in Japan. To put it in very clear terms, the facts state Impact Wrestling is a global promotion, while their partners are all national promotions. If anything, that point makes you wonder more why Impact wants these relationships, well, from where I’m sitting, it’s to establish and grow Impact as a worldwide wrestling promotion.

From a presentation perspective, Impact have the chance to become totally unique from everyone else. Say Slammiversary is the night where we see new Impact Championship titles. The Impact after the Heavyweight, Tag Team, Knockouts & X Division champions can all be featured in a segment and informed of a new approach, where Impact is going to put the “World” back in “World Champion”, with the champions going to partner promotions across the globe and defending the titles against the best they have to offer, along with top competitors showing up on Impact to challenge or earn a shot to compete for the titles. From there those titles can start to be given more meaning, have the Champions barely wrestle on the show, make it more about the top contenders battling it out for a shot, constantly mentioning the title and the champion, while airing shot clips of the World Champions defending the titles in the affiliate promotions around the globe. Then when the champions show up and defend on Impact, the matches become so much more of a bigger deal, and the appearance of a World Champion alone can be a big surprise and really stand out from the rest of the roster.

With the World Champions having a responsibility to work both Impact events and some events for international partners, one thing it could effect is Impact’s plan to re-launch live events later this year. To do this right, Impact have to prioritize the World Titles and their importance globally over having the World Champions on live events, so the only the guaranteed champion that can appear on house shows would be the Grand Champion. With that being the case and considering the title is more of a gimmick, it would be a blow, but there can be a way around it that would be an asset for both live events and Impact TV. While Impact Wrestling is a global brand, the roots of the company are deeply set in the US, and with Anthem taking over and being hands on with the company there are roots being laid at Anthem HQ in Toronto.  So with most of the titles embracing the entire world of pro wrestling, Impact should introduce the North American Heavyweight Championship, a secondary belt that represents Impacts homebase.  A title that can be regularly defended on Impact and main event house shows, and when looking at the bigger picture be looked at similarly to the WOS Title, AAA Heavyweight title, GHC (NOAH) Heavyweight title and so on. While the prestige of the belts can be argued, all of Impact’s affiliates don’t claim their champions are world champions, so when looking at it those champions they represent the best in that country, and with the North American champion representing the best in the U.S. & Canada, it can be looked at the same way, and within Impact can play a role like the Intercontinental Title did back in the 80’s and 90’s where the champion was a top contender to the world title.

With such an approach to really opening the doors to a massive selection of talent, it runs the risk of neglecting some regular Impact talent, however the re-introduction of the live events and the existence and planned expansion of the Total Access app can help feature those talents and make the live events unique. In the past house shows have been commonly known a standard shows where nothing much happens, purely there to give fans a chance to see the stars on TV up, close and personal, But in 2017 we live in the social media age, an age where if a camera is rolling, the entire world can see it, so why not make live events important and have what happens on the road play a role on what happens on TV. Book things to continue rivalries, have #1 contender's matches, create momentum for guys with wins on live events in a build up to feature them as a big player in their division on TV.  Have a few camera’s in place to capture the footage and air it in a “weekend round-up” show on the Total Access app.  Have two or three hosts discuss what’s gone down over the weekend and show a few key matches that were recorded. By doing this and promoting it on Impact it makes both the app and live events more enticing to fans and gives Impact a way to separately use/build up other talents who aren’t featuring in the top of the divisions so there’s a backstory to when they appear on Impact higher up the ranks.

The approach isn’t new, it's the NWA approach but on a world scale, with the added fact of having one home where all the top talent converge and compete, that being Impact TV, but it’s a scenario that benefits all involved. For Impact, it’s regular promotion in key markets by companies who operate there, it also promotes Impact as a massive global brand that really does feature the very best in the world, by taking the tops guys in these promotions and having them appear on Impact. It also benefits the affiliate promotions, using the Impact stars and the World Championships as selling points for their shows to draw more fans to attend or tune in. While having their top stars competing on Impact and challenging for Impact World titles elevates their status in the industry and makes them a bigger draw for the national promotions.

Another big pro is with Anthem having the Fight Network ready to feature wrestling content, and more specifically the TNA Total Access app, they can distribute the national promotions events internationally and draw more attention to those brands. By utilising the Total Access app and other Impact social media platforms, it gives the company the chance to tell the big stories during 2 hours of Impact, but so many more stories through partner promotion events and Impact live events, giving depth to the available roster, characters and stories that exist in this global wrestling network. For years it's been said that Impact Wrestling tries to be WWE-lite.  Well now there is a chance for Impact Wrestling to become unique to not only WWE, but every other promotion in the world. To be the brand that brings promotions and nation’s together, creating a world where anything is possible.  Where World Champions really are that.  Where talent can get opportunities in different promotions and where the different styles of wrestling and ways of telling a story can be featured and distributed all under the same roof. Maybe what I’ve pitched is a pipe dream, maybe it's way off.  Maybe it’s similar to what's to come from Jarrett and co., who knows? Tell me what you guys think and share your thoughts on where you think the future lies for Impact, for now, MisterTNA has spoken...

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