TNAsylum's Roundtable column is back. We will be discussing the major happenings going on with TNA and where the product is going. This month's panel:
Talon- The Architect of TNAsylum.
FK9- The outspoken writer of "Straight Shooting"
Adam Foster- The writer of "The Other Side of the Tracks"
Adam Davey- Owner of V2 Journal, partner of TNAsylum.com
FK9: I think that, from the beginning, these rumors were blown out of proportion by various internet pundits more concerned with driving up the view count on their websites than in reporting the actual truth. All we know for sure is that TNA have not signed a new TV deal yet, but they're having ongoing discussions with Spike and have interest from other networks. This does not mean they're going out of business. It also doesn't mean they're not in a tough spot, but I really don't think it's as dire as the internet would have us believe.
All TNA personnel seem positive on social media that a deal will be worked out with someone before the show goes off the air. Meanwhile Spike has moved iMPACT to Wednesdays so it doesn't have to air against Smackdown, which I doubt they would bother doing if their relationship with TNA was coming to an end. If I have to guess, I think TNA will renew their deal and stay with Spike. If not, I'm still optimistic that they'll wind up on a different network.
Foster: This whole Spike TV story has been a little weird. I think the initial report that TMZ released was flawed with the knowledge of Spike’s concern with re-signing Impact being transmuted into a report of IMPACTs cancellation. I do however think that behind the report Spike TV were performing a power play to ensure that TNA would accept a lower offer;nothing sinister just smart business.
As for TNA's future, with the reports that IMPACT is moving to Wednesday I’m sure we will have confirmation of a new Spike TV deal shortly.
Davey: Although Impact has been moved to Wednesday nights, I don't see this as the savior of Impact. I think the time slot is much better for the show in the long run, but I think the network is no longer right for the show. Being based in the UK makes it hard to comment on the US networks, but I don't truly believe that Spike is the right network. To actually make a difference, a network has to really advertise the product and make Impact it's star. Spike won't do that.
But is there a network that will pay TNA enough AND advertise it?
I'm not sure.
It's not the end for TNA, that I am sure of. Someone will pick it up but whether it ends up on the right network or ends up on a network as it's the only one on offer is a worry.
Talon: There appears to be a lot of misinformation going around about these Spike negotiations. Everything that has been released from the parties involved points to the two sides trying to come to a new agreement. Negotiations are ongoing, Spike officials at TV tapings, the move to Wednesday, extending the Spike contract a few more months.
My guess is that TNA and Spike will come to a new deal in the end. I don't know the details or what it will entail but that is more likely than TNA going off the air or finding a new network. I guess it all depends on how TNA performs on Wednesdays.
Bound For Glory is coming up. Without spoiling anything, what matches would you have fill out the top of the card?
Foster: With BFG coming out of Japan this year I expect to see some international flavour in the card. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bobby Roode get a match for the W-1 championship against someone like Masakatsu Funaki. I thoroughly expect there to be a Storm/Muta match somewhere even if it’s a tag with Storm/Sanada taking on Muta with Yasu or maybe Tajiri. The other two matches that I think would benefit the top of the card would be a Queen of the Mountain match with Gail Kim taking on Taryn, Brittany, one of the BP’s and I think the ideal person to round that off would be the new knockout being teased at the moment Havok (if the rumours of her signing are true). The final match would be Lashley taking on someone. With the absence of suitable challengers at the moment I think a good opponent would be someone from W-1 maybe Kaz Hayashi.
I think this year’s BFG card will be something of an oddity with more W-1 wrestlers than some may expect.
Davey: Lashley vs Roode (Lashley retains)
Muta vs Storm vs Sanada
EC3 vs Magnus or Angle (a bit out of left field but EC3 deserves a big match and there isn't anyone bar angle that I can't seeing being involved elsewhere)
Team 3D vs Wolves vs Hardys
Aries vs Joe for X Division Title
Kim vs Terrell (don't want to see BP involved)
Talon: Bobby Roode w/ Eric Young vs Lashley w/ MVP (World Championship)
Austin Aries vs Kurt Angle (if Kurt signs on for BFG and if he can go)
100,000$ Gauntlet Battle Royal featuring the top names of TNA.
Samoa Joe vs Low Ki (X Division Championship)
Gail Kim vs Taryn Terrell: Best of 3 Falls (Knockouts Championship)
The Wolves vs The Hardys vs Team 3D: Full Metal Mayhem (Tag Team Championship)
Samuel Shaw vs Gunner vs Mr. Anderson
James Storm and Great Sanada vs Great Muta and Tajiri.
FK9: -World Heavyweight Title - Lashley (c) vs. Roode
-Tag Team Titles - Wolves (c) vs. Hardys vs. Magnus & Bram
-X-Division Title - 2 Out of 3 Falls: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Low Ki
-Knockouts Title - No DQ: Gail Kim (c) vs. Taryn Terrell vs. Jessicka Havok
If Kurt Angle is medically cleared:
-Austin Aries vs. Kurt Angle
-Eric Young vs MVP
If Kurt Angle is not medically cleared:
-Austin Aries vs. MVP
-Eric Young vs Kenny King
-James Storm & Sanada vs. the Great Muta & Wrestle-1 star of Muta's choice
-EC3 Open Challenge to any Wrestle-1 star
-Showcase Match - British Bootcamp finalists vs. TNA talent not booked on the main card
If TNA had its own TNA Network, what content would you provide to hook TNA fans? What would be the most appealing to you?
Davey: A "network" belt. A title that is defended each week on a network only show.
Tournaments to decide number one contenders for each belt. Make title challenges important by having meaningful contests to get into contender ship. They currently don't have enough air time to do this properly.
I feel that should be more of a competitive reason for match ups.
Talon: TNA had this with their TNAOnDemand a few years ago. I would have all of the PPVs and TNA DVDs available immediately. I would do as WWE does and feature TNA current PPVs for a discounted price. I would have Xplosion as an exclusive TNA Network show.
I like the idea of airing TNA's Weekly PPVs or old episodes of IMPACT on the TNA Network as well. I would do iPPVs a few times a year in the place of Live Events that air only on the TNA network.
One key factor is that I would rotate different things in instead of making everything available. Either add new episodes of IMPACT/PPVs every other week to keep people coming back or rotate OnDemand content. Finally, I would have wrestling-centric original series focusing on wrestlers or storylines.
FK9: What really hurts the WWE Network in my mind is the lack of compelling (that's the key word here) original content -- interesting programming you can't see anywhere else that doesn't feel like just a bunch of filler. That would be what I'd look for. X-division and Knockout exclusive shows would be a good start, classic matches with commentary tracks from the wrestlers, never-before-seen footage from British Bootcamp, exclusive interviews that aren't shown on iMPACT or the youtube page but which can add new dimensions to storylines, etc.
Foster: I think TNA had the right idea years ago with their TNA on demand service they used to run through their website. For £6 so approximately $10 I had complete access to their whole DVD and PPV archive for 3 months. It was a great value service that I kept until they got rid of it and made their Youtube channel (which is a lot less value for money). If they had a Network I would want them to the old PPVs and DVDs (hopefully with an OnDemand option). The other major thing would be their old weekly PPV’s. It’s almost impossible to find online these days and there is a huge amount of great quality wrestling that would help hook people on the brand.
How should TNA approach its TV Tapings? Should they do it in one location (if so where)? How often should they tape?
Talon: Their current approach seems to be a good one to use. Tape a series of IMPACTs from one location over a few days. TNA could have a new taping every (other) month and save a bit of money. I wouldn't stay in one location for too long but you can have a homebase of sorts among certain towns. New York, Dallas, Bethlehem, Salt Lake City, Chicago and others.
FK9: Taping multiple shows over a few days every couple months seems to be a necessity for now to keep costs down. It hasn't negatively effected the quality of the product or my enjoyment of the show, so I'm all right with this. As for locations, IMO they just need to find a smaller venue that won't charge them an arm and a leg, that they can reliably fill up and draw good crowds to; I think it really is that simple. The Manhattan Center seems to meet all these requirements, so I have no problem with them shooting TV there for the foreseeable future. However, to avoid burning the fans out like they did at Universal Studios, it might be a good idea to look into other similar locations in different markets and alternate TV tapings between several different regular venues just as a precaution.
Foster: I think that a slightly modified version of their current taping schedule would do them just fine. I think that two days of tapings for a total of four shows once a month would strike the best balance for keeping the product up to date and allowing their wrestlers time to recoup. It would also give them time to help make revisions in the case of someone leaving the company or other unforeseen circumstances.
I don’t think TNA should tape in one place too long. The best idea would be to have several bases across the states I think four would be the best number and tape there twice a year. That would leave them with two months of TV left which could come from the UK and Japan.
Davey: I think the current format is working. Pick hot locations (NY, Chicago, Pittsburgh etc) and tape in blocks. Preferably two shows only but obviously if it saves on finances, three shows. They should also tape in venues with no more than 3000 capacity to make the atmosphere intense as it is on the current NYC tapings.
A TV audience will tune in more frequently if the crowd look like they are loving it.
Foster: I would absolutely love for Kurt to still be in the same role as he is now. He could still be wrestling the odd match here and there as either special attractions or as part of a Heel vs Authority angle. If this happens it opens up the possibility of Kurt facing off against Austin Aries at BFG’15. However I imagine Kurt is going to be sending his feelers out to WWE and I wouldn’t be surprised that if they would allow him to wrestle over there to see him jump ship at the end of his contract.
Talon: This will solely depend on whether WWE wants Kurt Angle or not and whether TNA has a deal with Spike signed by then. If WWE does then Kurt is gone. If they don't and a deal isn't signed, TNA will balk on a new one.
If I had to guess, Kurt Angle will be back in WWE by the end of the year. I think that is what he wants for himself even though he is very grateful to TNA and Dixie Carter for everything he has done. While it will be bittersweet as a TNA fan, I think it is best for him to go where he wants to be and where he can go out with the biggest bang.
FK9: My guess is Angle will be gone from TNA by that point. I think he'll most likely try to return to the WWE when his current contract expires. His body doesn't have many miles left in it and he could have the itch for one last run in front of the big crowds before he hangs up his boots. If that's what Angle decides, I'm content with it. Kurt has done everything TNA could have asked of him, delivered in every way he can, often pushed his body passed its natural limits and put over a lot of people. If he wants to bow out and finish his career where it started, no one could begrudge him that.
Davey: I hope he will be in his current role, with only the occasional match (once or twice a year max). He is very good as a baby face GM (something that doesn't happen often in wrestling these days).
It would be a huge slap in the face to TNA if he did go back to WWE. I personally don't think he will go back, however.
I want him to stop actively wrestling unless it's for one off huge matches.
Foster: Most Memorable Moment- Dixie Carter table spot.
Match of the Year- X-Division Title Match at Slammiversary
MVP- The Wolves: Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards
Davey: Obviously the Dixie moment was huge and rightly the biggest moment of the year. That will be one of the companies most iconic moment of all time.
I think the feud between Gunner and Storm was fantastic with some great matches between the two. Lashley has put on some great contests with Aries, Hardy and Young.
As for MVP of the year, I would put it down to EC3 and Spud. Both have been elevated beyond all expectations, and in Spuds case, without wrestling. EC3 has been great in the ring but also has carried his gimmick and persona brilliantly. A future world champ.
Talon: The most memorable moment has to be Dixie Carter being put through a table. While many fans are split on this, the moment was built up for months. They executed the segment very nicely and the crowd's reaction was insane. I don't think I have ever heard "TNA" chants that loud.
The NYC shows have a list of matches that could be considered match of the year but the one I chose is match of the year for a different reason. I am going with Bully Ray and Spud vs Mr. Anderson and Austin Aries from Joker's Wild II earlier this year. This was one of the best comedy matches I have seen in years. I was laughing so hard while watching it. If the point of wrestling is to be entertained, there was a match more entertaining than that.
As for MVP of TNA, you have to go with EC3. The category is for the person who has accomplished most and while guys like Bully and Eric Young have done a lot, EC3 has been consistently entertaining. EC3 holds huge wins over Sting, Kurt Angle and Bully Ray and was the leader of Team Dixie in their feud with Team Bully. This is an interesting race of sorts.
FK9: It will be really hard to create a more memorable moment than Dixie Carter going through a table. For the amount of hype that moment had and all the months they built up to it, the payoff had to be something special, and I think most were in agreement that it was worth the wait.
For match of the year so far, I have to go with the Wolves vs the Hardys. There's still plenty of time for this to be topped, but that will be a rather tall order. One of the best teams of a previous era vs. the top team of today for the first time ever, and I think it lived up to expectations. The writers didn't try to get too creative or complicate things with needless overbooking. They just let the wrestlers do their thing and create a special moment, and the results were tremendous.
There can only be one person truly deserving of such an honor. One man who has taken the ball and run with it since the day he set foot in this company. One man who has not had a bad segment yet that I've seen. There was one other who I thought came close to taking this one, but he just left the company, (awkward) so nuts to that. The MVP of TNA is none other than the Hardcore American Icon of Wrestling, Ethan Carter III!
Rarely have TNA gotten everything so right and fired on all cylinders with a new talent. Everything about this guy works. His promos are consistently among the most entertaining on the show, his character seamlessly shifts between hilarious and dangerous, and management hasn't missed a beat with his push yet. TNA have taken a talent who was lost in the shuffle of WWE's developmental system and turned him into one of their biggest breakout stars in years, and I for one could not be more pleased with the results. I fully expect even better things to come in the future from him because the sky is the limit for the man I have dubbed 'Wrestling's Greatest Hero,' EC3!