The post-WrestleMania ratings decline is a phenomenon which is not limited to WWE programming. It affects the wrestling business as a whole and we have already seen TNA suffer the consequences. As WrestlingNewsWorld reported several days ago, the May 2nd episode of Impact Wrestling drew the lowest viewership since October 4 of last year. It is anyone’s guess whether that is precisely the reason for the show’s return to its previous timeslot on Spike TV. TNA management cannot be pleased with these recent developments, especially with the pride the company seems to take in its “growth” throughout the years, which is a prominent topic in every Dixie Carter interview.
It was not long ago that Richard Gray published a great piece here on TNANews.com, raising the question, has the partnership with Hulk Hogan failed at expanding the fanbase and increasing mainstream awareness? Everyone has their own opinion on the matter, as Hogan’s contributions to TNA are widely debated within the Internet Wrestling Community.
The question I would like to raise is, does TNA management feel like something just isn’t working? Is everyone backstage happy with the direction of the product, or are new ways to appeal to the fans constantly being explored? Judging by the programming in the last few weeks, it seems like someone has someone has made the decision to go back to what made TNA the second largest wrestling promotion in America to begin with.
The X Division is currently being renovated with fan-favorites like Petey Williams and Sonjay Dutt stepping foot in a TNA ring once again. Suicide is also expected to be back on TV in the near future. In addition, we have been seeing more of The Phenomenal One, with Hulk Hogan referring to TNA last night as “The House AJ Styles Built”.
Furthermore, yesterday’s episode of Impact Wrestling featured the return of Abyss, a character that has been absent from TV for quite a while now, as Chris Parks has been performing as his storyline brother Joseph Park. The Monster is a former World Heavyweight Champion and one of the most recognizable names in TNA history. There is no doubt in my mind that Abyss is one of those characters that helped put the company on the map and I fondly remember his feuds with the likes of Sting and AJ Styles. Abyss has very much become the face of hardcore in TNA with his signature thumbtacks and later the nail-filled board named Janice.
I have been following TNA’s product for about seven years now and I was glad to see Abyss make his long-awaited return last night. I did wonder though, why now?
Considering Abyss’ place in TNA history and the character’s tremendous significance to the company’s main event scene, it came off as rather odd that the only build-up to his return was a short phone call from Hulk Hogan. One could argue that The Monster’s appearance at the end of the show was meant to be a surprise, which is why no hints were dropped and no vignettes were aired in the weeks leading up to last night. Nevertheless, I felt TNA could have probably benefited from a bit of hype, similar to the way anticipation built up for AJ Styles’ recent return. The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that Abyss’ return has probably not been in the works for a long time. The creative team might have come up with the conclusion to last night’s show as a rebound after last week’s disastrous rating, due to the character’s appeal to TNA’s loyal fans.
Whatever the case with Abyss’ return was, I appreciate the fact that TNA is going back to their roots at least in certain aspects, as opposed to neglecting them, which is what Hogan often seems to do. I can only hope that the resurfacing of The Monster and the reinvigorated focus on the X Division are indicative of a new creative direction for the company at a time when viewership numbers are disappointing.