June 20, 2012
Long-time reigning champions can create new stars
At the time of this writing, TNA currently have their longest reigning world champion, X-division champion AND Knockouts champion holding those respective titles. Russo liked to often play hot potato with the championships, so much so that the belts changing hands rarely meant anything because it happened so often (ex. the Knockouts title last summer), but Prichard has brought stability back to the various title pictures, and with that stability comes opportunity.
These champions have held their titles so long now that management has 3 great chances to make some real stars out of whoever dethrones them. When the time comes for Roode, Aries and Kim to lose their titles, whoever beats them is going to get a hell of a rub. Being the person who took down the longest reigning champion ever is quite an accolade and it could be used to create instant new stars, provided it's executed properly and done with the right person.
For example, in Gail Kim's case, I strongly believe that whoever wins the title from her should be someone who has never been the champion before because a person like that would get the most out of that rub. If someone like ODB were to do it, it would be a complete waste because ODB has already been a multi-time champion; she doesn't need the rub and would get nothing out of it. The same could be said for Melina if they were to sign her. In my mind, it should be Brooke Tessmacher who does it. She's over with the fans, she's turned into a good wrestler, she's proven that she can credibly and believably beat Gail, she's one of the only babyface Knockouts that are even relevant right now and she's still a new enough talent that she hasn't been weighed down by a lot of baggage and bad writing like most of the other Knockouts have. Tessmacher is in the best position to maximize the potential rub that would come from beating Gail, so she should be the one to do it IMO.
Concurrently, if Sting were to win the world title from Bobby Roode at Slammiversary, not only would it end Roode's title reign on a horrible note and show that, despite what they've been saying, nothing has really changed in this company, it would throw away a rub that Sting DOES NOT NEED. Frankly, if anyone but James Storm defeats Roode for the world title, it will be an absolute joke and an insult to both men.
Aries is a unique case just because the X-division roster is so spare at the moment. I still believe Zema Ion should be the champion when Jesse Sorensen comes back, but that won't be for a long time still. What to do with the title until then is hard to say. There aren't many compelling X-division feuds left for Aries unless they start putting the old stalwarts like Styles and Daniels back in there. Unless they feel like doing that, the best option is to keep the belt on Aries until something changes, so at least it gets on TV regularly. That said, Aries has been such a revelation as the X-division champ that whoever beats him for the title could be an instant star if TNA play their cards right.
[EDIT: Brooke Tessmacher defeating Gail Kim for the Knockouts title at Slammiversary represents one of the most effective efforts of creating a new star TNA has made in some time. When James Storm wins the world title from Bobby Roode at Bound For Glory like they're clearly building to, that will be another.
However, I have mixed feelings about this business of Austin Aries possibly vacating the X-division title to move into the main events. It does get him out of having to job to someone and possibly damaging his momentum, but it also really wastes the rub that would have been gained. Whoever beat Aries for the title would've garnered instant credibility. Instead, they had Aries dominate the X-division and now he seems to be moving out of it without having to pass the torch to anyone. Sure, Aries comes out of that smelling like a rose, but it leaves the X-division without a new figurehead because no one was ever able to beat Aries for the title. I'm looking forward to Aries' main event push, but I'm worried the X-division will just vanish from TV now because, with Sabin injured again, there's almost no one left in it with an ounce of credibility or star power.]
WWE is full of hypocrites
TNA gets a lot of criticism. You can make a good argument that a big chunk of that criticism is deserved. But one good thing you can say about TNA is that at least they don't air anti-bullying promos with the slogan "Don't be a bully, be a Star," and then cut to a segment where the chairman is cruelly mocking a man with Bell's Palsy or the babyface Jerry Lawler is making constant juvenile cracks about how supposedly fat and ugly Vickie Guererro is, then have a main event (and I use that term loosely) where John Cena, the biggest babyface in the company, beats up and embarrasses a defenseless announcer, strips his clothes off and covers him with BBQ sauce.
I imagine WWE's excuse is that these people are heels (how they excuse the abuse of Jim Ross, I don't know) and therefore they deserve what they get, but that doesn't make it okay! All that does is tell the audience that there's nothing wrong with bullies as long as you're the one doing the bullying. There's no justification for a company with an anti-bullying campaign to have their on-screen babyfaces act like bullies and pass it off as socially acceptable behavior, especially when one of them is a guy whose main fanbase is impressionable kids. TNA may do a lot of stupid things, but at least they don't do mean-spirited, offensive shit like that.
If you want people to watch the show, first they need to know about it
While they they seem to be slowly improving, the ratings since the show moved to an hour earlier didn't get off to a good start. The writers have been trying to remedy this by loading up the first segment of the show, for which viewership has been tanking, but that wasn't the real issue IMO. The problem is, like with a lot of things TNA does, they dropped the ball on getting the word out.
Sting summed it up perfectly in a recent interview, saying something to the effect of, "We moved to a new timeslot and no one knew about it." That's the problem in a nutshell.
And then I hear Dixie Carter talking about how people are going to have to find them in their new timeslot. This is absolutely ridiculous. Viewers shouldn't have to find the new timeslot; they should have already known about it weeks ago. TNA should have made it impossible for them NOT to know about it, and they didn't.
What kind of advertising did TNA do for this? They had Mike Tenay mention the move to 8pm once or twice in passing during matches. During commercial breaks, they'd air a blink-and-you-miss-it promo that was so short, you probably missed it if you weren't paying attention. But it was never actually addressed or even mentioned on camera until the last segment of the last episode before the move when Hogan came out and told the crowd that the show was going to be starting an hour earlier from now on. Is it any wonder why nobody knew to tune in?
WWE Raw is going to be airing their 1,000th episode in a few weeks, the same night the show switches to 3 hours. You know how I know this? Because they've been screaming it from the rooftops to anyone who will listen. They've been airing promos for it that are impossible to miss, they talk about it constantly on the show. They're making damn sure their entire audience will know to tune in at 8pm on that date.
This is something TNA just did not do. Hell, it was almost like they were trying to keep it a secret. If they couldn't afford a ton of advertising, that's one thing, but they should've had people talking about the new timeslot in every segment, had the wrestlers mention it in every promo, show graphics that read "iMPACT WRESTLING AT 8PM" nonstop. But there was none of that.
Instead, they waited until the last minute to do anything substantial on the show to push the new timeslot and they took a hit for it for those first few weeks. If you want the fans to know something is happening, you can't just do it and hope they show up; you have to tell them it's happening beforehand in a way that they can't ignore. I have no idea why TNA didn't bother to do this. Hopefully, the subsequent ratings have taught them something about promoting things ahead of time.
Gene Snitsky, stay away
I do not now, nor will I ever have any desire to see Gene Snitsky in TNA. That is all.