TNA Wrestling

All of a sudden, I’m intrigued by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff’s business plan. It’s obvious in their bringing aboard two of the biggest names in professional wrestling that TNA are positioning themselves properly as rivals to WWE, but the way iMPACT has changed in the last few weeks raises some questions about the nature of their game-plan and how successful it’s likely to be. Take the rather superficial change back to the traditional, four-sided ring that debuted on the Genesis pay-per-view a week ago. Frankly, there’s two ways that that change can be interpreted. On the one hand, a few blogging TNA fans have expressed dismay at losing what was part of the company’s unique branding. By taking away the distinctive ring, it could be argued that the powers that be are displaying a lack of initiative and simply trying to re-create WCW’s glory days – and I’m sure some long-standing TNA fans see it that way. The alternative argument is that to play with the big boys, you need a big boy’s ring. The six-sided ring was something that made a minor promotion stand out in a market monopolised by a major player. Ultimately people like the familiar – and the familiar for most wrestling fans is a four-sided ring. By taking away the gimmick, the wrestling fans outside TNA’s core audience are given an easier transition as they are weaned onto the better product.

That’s not to say that I’m certain Hogan and Bischoff aren’t just harking back to their time with WCW. I’ve read the argument that WCW failed because Bischoff’s creativity was squeezed by a television company that didn’t understand the wrestling industry and tried to push the product into embodying their assumptions. They wanted a family entertainment show and didn’t realise why a successful wrestling promotion can’t be that. It happens in every entertainment corporation – the old suits at the top are out of touch with the audience and hell-bent on doing things their way regardless of what the talent on the shop floor know is right. It’s an attitude that’s throttling the music industry at the moment.

Personally, what I saw in TNA when I first started watching iMPACT was a company that was putting on a good wrestling show without the endless speeches and backstage plot shoots that have made WWE dull for the last fifteen years. A company that nurtures new and genuine talent rather than pandering to a string of ageing stars. It’s early days yet, but I see the truckload of old faces that have appeared on iMPACT these last few weeks and I wonder if TNA isn’t about to turn into WWE’s clone. I suppose time will tell if Eric Bischoff still knows how to put together a good wrestling TV show, or if he’s become one of the old suits.

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~ by Scary Rob on 28 January, 2010.

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