Impact Wrestling: Some Thoughts

If you’re a casual viewer rather than a wrestling nerd, you’ll probably not have been keeping up with behind-the-scenes stuff and Impact Wrestling’s status in America. The short version is that TNA’s relationship with Spike TV ended in November and there was a brief hiatus (their international broadcasters got highlight shows) before they began a new slot on cable channel Destination America. They took the opportunity to change the format a bit, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today.

First of all, some superficial things have changed. There’s new branding, including a new logo. The lighting is dimmed during matches, leaving the focus on the ring and blacking out the crowd. And Taz and Mike Tenay have been split up, with Josh Matthews replacing Tenay on play-by-play commentary. Branding is branding, and I feel no need to comment. The lighting, however, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives the six-sided ring an MMA, caged feel, which I like. But on the other, it leaves any climbing spots on cage matches ill-lit – something that marred the Lockdown special last weekend. These first few editions were, however, all filmed at one venue, so it will be interesting to see if they kept this lighting for the UK tour and use it for the forthcoming shows in Orlando. As for the commentary, I was sceptical about dropping Mike Tenay. He had a good rapport with Taz and I liked the “two guys on a sofa” feel of their banter, especially as the UK broadcast is on Sunday night. However, I soon got used to Matthews and I like that his and Taz’s calls are more technical – the feel is more like a (competitive) sports broadcast in that respect.

In fact, it looks like TNA have learned some things from Wrestle-1 (and the pleas of a more indie-inclined fan base) in that the style of the show is now more realistic. They claim to have cameras everywhere, and the “backstage” shots seem less soap-opera-ish (necessary if you don’t want to look like WWE’s poor cousin). There is also more focus on the matches, with less time devoted to replays and promo videos (although they tried this early on during the Bischoff era and it was short-lived, so we’ll see how long this positive development lasts). Even though many of the same storylines are being continued from the last of the Spike shows, the whole thing appears less cartoonish. It seems that they’ve taken steps towards a more realistic-looking presentation, which certainly sits well with me. Whether it keeps the interest of American fans remains to be seen, however. Viewing figures have been positive so far.

All in all, I’m impressed with the new run of Impact Wrestling, and I’d say to any curious viewer that now is the time to give TNA a go, whether you’re a wrestling sceptic or have simply abandoned the product over the last couple of years.

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~ by Scary Rob on 12 February, 2015.

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