July 23, 2012

iMPACT WRESTLING is a better live show than RAW

With TNA approaching the end of the summer of live iMPACTs and fans tweeting TNA and SpikeTV, telling them they want the show to stay live, I wanted to add my two cents to this as well. 

I will admit, when it was first announced that the show would be going live for the summer, I didn't see what the big deal was. It just seemed like a venture that wouldn't offer much of a payoff and would cost more money than it would be worth. And unfortunately the move to 8pm and the DirecTV/Viacom debacle have prevented all parties involved from getting an accurate idea of whether or not being live as opposed to taped could have had a positive effect on the ratings.  

But it HAS had a positive effect on the product. I don't think I realized it until I had something to compare it to, but the show has been more exciting, there's a whole different atmosphere to it, and most importantly of all, the godawful iMPACT Zone crowds actually seem to stay awake when they know they're on TV right now and not being taped two weeks before the show airs.  

In fact, I'll go one step further. If you read the title of this column, you know what I'm about to say, but here it is anyway: 

iMPACT WRESTLING is a better live show than WWE RAW. 

I'm not talking about creative issues (though iMPACT is miles better than WWE on that front these days), I'm speaking in terms of production. And this is not something I ever expected to say because one thing WWE has always had going for them is dynamite production values that TNA could never hope to match. I imagine it's been the cause of a lot of penis envy among the TNA crew over the years. Well, I'm here to tell them that they can forget about that now. 

In a matter of weeks, TNA has surpassed the WWE in terms of capturing the genuine feeling of a live broadcast, and the very production values that WWE is so lauded for are actually working against them in this regard now that TNA has ironed out the kinks in their reality-based approach to producing shows.  

Let me give you a side-by-side comparison of what I'm talking about. On this past Thursday's episode, James Storm called out Kurt Angle for their Bound For Glory Series match. Angle's music started playing, only Kurt was nowhere to be seen. Storm was confused, the announcers didn't know what was happening. Nobody knew where Angle was because he wasn't where he was supposed to be. 

So what happened? Storm told the cameraman, "Angle's not here, go find him and see what's going on." The cameraman then actually had to go backstage and look for him until he happened upon the Aces & 8s mercilessly beating Angle. 

On a real live show there would be confusion like that from the talent and production crew. There would be a moment where, if something doesn't go as planned, they don't know what to do, what to cut to, etc., so they have to improvise. In short, on a real live show, this is what would happen, ergo it actually feels real.  

Now compare this to what WWE does. On the episode of RAW some weeks back when Vince McMahon returned to television as the company chairman with no explanation despite being "relieved of his duties" by Triple H months earlier (you figure that one out), there was a backstage segment where he ran into Divas Cameron & Naomi. Despite their protestations, he told them that he didn't have the power to bring Brodus Clay back to RAW (Huh? Is he the fucking chairman or isn't he?). They were upset because they thought he was cool or whatever, and the segment ended with Vince proving that he was, in fact, hip with the young people by dancing with the two of them for a minute.  

And the instant this happened, the lighting changed, Brodus Clay's music started playing from out of nowhere, the cameraman started weaving around and panning all over the place. And why? Because it's dancy time! 

Wow. It sure was lucky that the WWE production crew had that lighting rig set up, had Brodus Clay's music queued up AND had the cameraman ready to get all herky jerky with the steadicam all on the outside chance that Vince McMahon would just happen to walk into that exact backstage area and decide to get funky. If they hadn't lucked out like that, RAW might have bared a passing resemblance to something that takes place in real life and not a major motion picture or a freaking music video, and God knows we can't have that.  

It seriously pulls you out of the moment, shattering your suspension of disbelief, when you see something like this, something that could not have happened without a good deal of preproduction and rehearsal, and yet we're meant to just accept that it's somehow happening live. That simply does not work. And I swear, the WWE does stupid crap like this EVERY DAMN WEEK! 

There are countless examples just like this, of the TNA camera crew running across the studio to catch something on film, of the WWE production crew having multiple cameras already set up in advance to capture seemingly random events they couldn't possibly have known would happen from every angle available, of TNA cameras filming a backstage segment through a window or from an awkward position because they don't want the wrestlers to know they're on camera or because the crew had no notice that this would happen because it is after all live TV, of WWE cameras placed in the ideal position to capture the wrestlers as they watch the backstage monitor standing to the side and craning their necks awkwardly because that's the shot that looks the best to Kevin Dunn, and so on, and so on... 

The short version is simply this: iMPACT WRESTLING is a live show that actually feels like a live show. WWE RAW is a live show that comes off as completely artificial and feels like a taped show because of the way they choose to present their product. This reason alone is enough justification for me to want iMPACT to stay live, because when you compare the two shows to each other there can be no question in any fan's mind which is the more authentic product and which is overproduced, intelligence-insulting tripe. This is what the summer of live iMPACTs has given us and I don't want that to go away. 

So all of you tweet to Dixie Carter, iMPACT WRESTLING and SpikeTV that you want them to keep this show live because, quite honestly, going back to taping the show 1-2 weeks in advance would be a big step down at this point.  


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