Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Sad Case Of TNA Impact Wrestling

Yeah, I'm reusing this one... and chances are you'll see it again if I jump in again in the future.

Happy Holidays to all and stuff.

At the moment, I'm currently working on compiling the Winners And Losers of 2017 list and as I was gazing through the list, I spot an entry that has me stumped. See, the way this works is that I list said winners and losers (along with some "middle grounders" that fit neither category but deserve mention regardless) and I would add some brief thoughts. And when it came to this one entry, I had a difficult time coming up with a brief statement that would sum up this entry as a whole in 2017.

It got to a point where I started writing... and kept writing... and kept writing... until I had several paragraphs worth of text on screen. So for a list format, that's too much... but for its own blog post, that's perfectly fine. So here we are... talking about said entry that should be obvious from the post title and the image above.

There is no offender that baffles me more than TNA Wrestling. While they are currently known as Impact Wrestling, I will still refer to them as TNA because no matter how many times you change your name as well as change the management and ownership, you end up being known for all the stupid shit you're always doing rather than the scant few highlights coming out of your promotion. And the one constant in Impact's universe is that no matter how good the wrestling product is - and there have been instances where it's been very good - the only thing people talk about when they bring up TNA is their financial woes and backstage turmoils... that is to say, if they even bother to bring it up at all.

TNA was once touted as having a serious chance at being actual competition for the juggernaut known as WWE... but that was a lifetime before bad decisions, bad creative, and just bad apples in general killed the company's chances at true greatness... in the minds of some. Others - perhaps rightly so - figured they had no chance whatsoever of being anywhere near WWE's level and probably should've done their own thing and work from there. Whatever the case, there used to be a time when people saw TNA as an alternative to WWE's sports entertainment show and nowadays, the only thing that comes to mind whenever someone brings up TNA or any of its later monikers is... "Wait? TNA's still around? I thought they went out of business!"

For the past few years, people were more concerned with TNA getting kicked off television channels and backstage politics than they were with the product being presented before them. And indeed, their only defining trait these past few years - dare I say the ONLY positive - was that they're still around. Whether that's a good thing or not is entirely subjective to the individual. When TNA was bought from Panda Energy by Anthem Sports (the people who run The Fight Network in Canada) in late 2016, there was some hope that new ownership would steer the ship in the right direction. Maybe not be "competition" since that's no longer possible unless you're a giant entity like New Japan, but rather forge their own unique identity in the rather crowded wrestling landscape. Certainly, TNA had a thing going with the Broken Hardy stuff - whether you cared for it or not and I at first didn't - and that's a direction they could've gone.

Instead of making a bigger deal out of the Hardy, TNA drove them back to WWE and got into a long legal battle over the rights before eventually backing off this past month.

When it came time to launch a new era of Impact Wrestling, there were more bad spots than there were bright ones. The constant references to WWE and past TNA stars who are currently ushering in a new era of WWE for better or worse, the "merger" with Global Force Wrestling that wasn't really a merger, as well as the horrid commentary of Josh Matthews doing his most mediocre Michael Cole circa 2011 impersonation and just overall brain-dead booking and storytelling did little to sell those who were on the fence or, in some cases, turn them off to the product entirely. Now, the product itself might have improved... but as the old saying goes, the more things change...

So the good news is that TNA Impact Global Force Wrestlling Network thing survived another year. Unfortunately, as has been the case for the past seven years of its lifespan, that seems to be the only true semblance of good that came out of Impact. The product still has its fans who will support it to the bitter end, but when that support is barely enough and you have to resort to PAY PEOPLE MONEY TO SIT THROUGH YOUR WRESTLING SHOWS, I start to wonder if maybe this company was better off dead and its roster working elsewhere. Unlike seven years ago, there's a lot of wrestling promotions on the market and surely some of the company's better workers can find work easily in that group.

So going into 2018, you have Anthem head Ed Northolm flanked by Don Callis and Scott D'Amore heading TNA. Callis, currently the color commentator for the New Japan promotion and podcast host with Lance Storm, and D'Amore, a man that has been part of TNA on and off since its early days and also a promoter and trainer in his own right, will have a ginormous challenge ahead of them in trying to turn Impact Wrestling into something viable. And, well, I wish them the best of luck. Hope they can pull it off... but I've been burned by this company so many times that it'll take a really hard convincing sell for me to sit down and sample it for any extended period of time.

Maybe the first episode of the new taping cycle next month, I'll check out if I have nothing better to do and maybe it'll be worth a damn then, but... I don't know. We'll see.

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