TNA can't survive solely on uniqueness, sizzle
By Rennie Detore
Sunday, June 20, 2004
After two weeks on Fox Sports Net with its new show, "Impact,"
NWA-TNA accomplished what it wanted to by creating a buzz within the
industry that a new professional wrestling alternative has arrived.
But that momentum alone can't sustain the upstart promotion forever.
"Impact" indeed surprised many with its modern, major league look,
with TNA revamping the old WCW Worldwide (Universal) studio in
Orlando, Fla. TNA also injected its own originality to the broadcast
with a funky six-sided ring and cameras positioned behind wrestlers
during their ring entrances.
The TNA match mentality, too, is different.
TNA gives each contest a time limit and counts down from that. A more
sports-oriented graphic indicating who is wrestling whom appears next
to the time in the "FOX Box," almost as if you were watching a
football game and wanted to immediately know the score.
Those previously mentioned producing inceptions already has allowed
TNA to distinguish itself from World Wrestling Entertainment. TNA is
doing the right thing by not getting too far ahead of itself, thinking
that a national TV deal is reason to start competing directly with
That doesn't mean, however, that TNA couldn't learn something from
TNA can't assume that a string of fast-paced, high-flying matches in a
one-hour time slot every Friday will be enough to keep fans
enthralled. That type of in-ring proficiency has to be mixed with
promos and name value that direct the casual viewer to Wednesday
nights, which is when TNA offers a weekly pay-per-view for $9.95.
The purpose of "Impact" should be the same as "Raw" or "Smackdown."
Essentially, weekly wrestling TV shows offer first-run, quality
matches that build from week to week, show to show, culminating in a
monthly pay-per-view. TNA, however, delivers pay-per-views on a weekly
So, TNA must use "Impact" to build from TV to pay-per-view, without
giving too much away for free every Friday. Can "Impact" showcase a
pay-per-view quality main event? Of course, "Raw" and "Smackdown"
frequently do it. Basically, TNA's "Impact" should feel like the final
"Raw" or "Smackdown" before a pay-per-view. TNA has to create that
type of intensity each week, not every three weeks.
That will happen if TNA introduces multiple storylines that can be
furthered by weekly matches, leading to weekly pay-per-views.
TNA can't fill a one-hour show with matches and simply say, "Order
this Wednesday's pay-per-view," because our graphics look cool. Fans,
casual or ***, need proper incentive, not a slew of highspots for
the sake of impressing the 200 people watching the live TV taping in
That incentive will come in the form of can't-miss matches predicated
on strong angles, which are crucial to pay-per-view buys and overall
Last Sunday's "Bad ***" WWE pay-per-view had Shawn Michaels vs.
Triple H, a long-standing feud in a "Hell in a Cell," which is a
must-see affair. Even one or two of those matches -- either from the
X-Division or heavyweights -- for TNA will go a long way toward
developing a core audience who feel like being at home Fridays at 3
p.m. is that much more important, which hopefully for TNA will carry
over into the realm of pay-per-view Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
Equally valuable are vital, multidimensional superstars who fans can
either relate to or rally behind for whatever reason. TNA is so far
behind the "Non-stop Action" vibe that it seems to usher in and rush
off superstars before we get to know them.
TNA already has risen above minor league status, thanks directly to
showcasing great athletes and equally innovative ideas (camera work,
the ring). Now, it must look past the initial sizzle and cosmetic part
of running a wrestling company and deliver the kind of overall
consistency, booking intelligence and character development that
leaves its audience wanting more.
TNA has our attention. Now, it has to keep it.
Triple H won't be taking time off this summer to film a movie as
originally expected, which is why he beat Michaels last Sunday at "Bad
***." Michaels is taking time off to be with his wife, who is
expecting the couple's second child. The former four-time WWE champion
most likely will return at "SummerSlam" to face Kane. As for Triple H,
he'll probably face "Raw" world champion Chris Benoit at either
"Vengeance" on July 11 or at "SummerSlam."