Change is a part of life. It is inevitable. The saying goes that the only thing that does not change is death and taxes. Everything that is alive must go through changes. We even go through changes every day. Our beliefs usually change slightly every day. We grow or lose hair every day. Change can be a great or a terrible thing. It depends on your perception on the situation. TNA Wrestling has went through many changes in the past year. In this column, I will be reviewing the decision to go on the road.
In May 2004, TNA started using Soundstage 21 of Universal Studios as the location for their first weekly televised show called iMPACT! Soundstage 21 has been used before for WCW Pro and WCW Worldwide. TNA was making a huge step in the growth of the company. You now didn’t need to pay to see TNA. They were getting more exposure. Even though it wasn’t much since they were on late at night and on Fox Sports Net, it was better than weekly Pay-Per-Views. Every TNA Pay-Per-View was held at the Impact Zone until October 2006 for Bound For Glory.
Even thought the Impact Zone was a great place for the company to be at, there were two problems. The first problem is that TNA was not allowed to charge entrance fee into the Impact Zone. People got to watch TNA every week for free. They also got to watch Pay-Per-Views in the Impact Zone until October 2006 for free. The first problem with this is that TNA couldn’t make a profit. They could hold the best wrestling show on the planet (which they did) and not make a cent off of the people that were coming in. The only way they could make money was with merchandise.
The second problem TNA had with fans getting in free is that people didn’t care anymore. After a while, they didn’t come because they wanted to come. They didn’t come to see the show. It seemed they came because they have always came. It was now a habit. It was downgraded to a ritual. Also, there were many people in the crowd who didn’t know a lick about wrestling. They didn’t care one bit because they were not wrestling fans in the first place. When many of TNA’s top stars debuted (Sting, Christian Cage, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam) the crowd went crazy. But even the Impact Zone crowd going crazy is not saying much. When you watched Impact, if you just paid attention to the crowd, you wouldn’t want to continue watching the show. If the people actually there didn’t care, why should you?
The Wrestling Society X crowd is one of my favorites. It is as if WSX paid many young good looking people to come to the show and go crazy. And that is what they did. Just going off of the crowd, even if you knew nothing about the product, you would be entertained. The environment made the show feel as if it was an exclusive underground wrestling club. It reminds me of Fight Club. The Ring of Honor crowd can also be great. The way they chant and pound on the barricade is electrifying. I’ve heard that Ring of Honor sometimes gets more fans at house shows than TNA Wrestling. In just terms of the crowd, if I had to make a choice between watching Wrestling Society X and TNA, I would pick Wrestling Society X every time. The environment was more exciting.
In Wrestling Society X and Ring of Honor, the crowd is small. There is no comparison with it and the Impact Zone in terms of size. The Impact Zone wins every time. The problem is that quantity does not matter as much as quality. If you get a crowd full of 100 people that really care about the show, that will translate over to the audience. If there is a crowd of 600 people and most of them do not care, that will also translate over to the audience.
TNA has gone to the United Kingdom many times over the years. When they do, it is always a huge event. The crowd there goes wild! They really enjoy their wrestling. Even if the product hasn’t changed at all, I always look forward to when TNA goes to the United Kingdom. What wrestling fan doesn’t? The fans over there are passionate. There is a reason that TNA announced they will hold their One Night Only specials in England next year. This is a money maker for sure. Even if I find the results beforehand, I still might get the Pay-Per-Views just to see the crowd and environment.
On January 31st, 2013, TNA announced that it would be taping iMPACT Wrestling from different locations all around the United States. The last two episodes of iMPACT Wrestling at Universal Studios were taped on February 28th and March 7th. For years, we, as fans, have all told TNA to go different cities. We have all told them to tape two shows at one location then go to the next. It would generate more money. It would increase awareness of the product. Not only did TNA do this but they took it a step further. The first week they go somewhere new, it is live. This adds even more excitement because as we saw with the Christy Hemme/Austin Aries incident, anything can happen on live TV. From this point of view, money could only skyrocket.
The problem is that TNA tried to make everything just like WCW. There are no exceptions. The size of the arenas that they use is to fill up more than 15,000 fans. In reality, only a few thousand fans come to see Impact Wrestling. The crowd is more electric than the crowd at the Impact Zone. The problem is TNA is still losing money due to using too big of arenas. What TNA needs to remember and take into consideration is that is not the quantity of arena or production that matters but the quality. Over the recent years, we have seen TNA make a major upgrade in production. The crowd is also very much better. Since they are paying to see what they are watching, they care more.
TNA’s downfall is that they needed to downsize. When Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff first came to TNA, they wanted to take it to the top right away. They brought in old stars. They tore down the six sided ring. They went live head to head against WWE Monday night Raw. When all of this was happening, you couldn’t help but as a wrestling fan be excited. Change was happening. I had hope that Hogan and Bischoff would take TNA to the top. I still have hope that TNA can go to the top and defeat WWE one day. But if they do, they must take baby steps. They must grow their product by using original stars and slowly evolve. They have made some big leaps over the years but since Bischoff and Hogan have come, its seemed that they now want to go full throttle. Slow down. Take it easy.
TNA is now in talks to move back to Universal Studios. It is said that they will return to Universal Studios on November 21st. It is also said that they will not be returning to Soundstage 21. Now, whether this new location will be named the Impact Zone is unknown. How should we perceive this move back to Universal Studios? I think we should view it as a transitional period. It is temporary. Just as their run for nine years in the Impact Zone was temporary, this will be too. Even though TNA going on the road did not last long, I have to keep hope that this is just to help out the financial situation. Once TNA gets back on their feet and can afford to go back on the road, they will. When they do, there is one thing that they should remember. Quality is always more important than quantity.