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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

TNA shouldn't get its hopes up

Yay. Yet another forum for me to pontificate about my favorite sport.

Al Castle here, contributing writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated and its sister magazines, and author of the columns “Quick Counts” and “Workin’ Stiff.” I’d like to thank Stu and the team over in Blue Bell for putting this blog together, and I look forward to dropping by regularly and offering my two cents on the latest pro wrestling headlines.

I thought I’d start by talking about one of the major stories coming out of a very newsworthy weekend for wrestling – Hulk Hogan’s announcement on Spike TV Saturday night that TNA Impact will be going head to head against WWE’s Monday Night Raw on January 4. From the Hulkster’s rhetoric, as well as TNA’s subsequent press release, it seems apparent that TNA has some pretty high expectations for the show. They’ve all but declared a new Monday Night War.

Dixie Carter is in for quite the reality check.

TNA declaring war on WWE would be somewhat akin to Jamie Noble challenging the entire WWE locker room to a fight. It will be a blow out.

Just like the multitude of acquisitions of ex-WWE stars, or moving to Thursday nights, or going to two hours, or every other smoke and mirrors tactic that TNA has attempted to give its product a boost, this latest dawn of a new day for TNA will not make much of a difference to its bottom line.

If Dixie Carter thinks the only thing keeping TNA from seriously competing with WWE is a Monday night time slot and the addition of Hulk Hogan, she is nothing short of delusional. If Carter and Hogan are using WCW as inspiration that a wrestling company could give WWE a run for its money, they are missing the big picture. WCW had decades of history behind it when it created Nitro, and more importantly, had a product that was good enough – and for a while considerably better – than what WWE was offering. TNA has none of those. And while WCW Nitro’s success was driven by Eric Bischoff’s determination to do things differently than WWE, TNA has repeatedly failed at carving out its own identity – or at least a positive one.

If I were asked to list some of TNA’s unique qualities I’d mention: 1). Overly complicated and undisciplined booking 2). Convoluted and inefficient gimmick matches 3). Washed up stars from the Monday Night Wars and more recent WWE mid card cast offs. 4). Short matches. 5). An abundantly talented and mis-used cruiserweight division. 6). A small-time TV studio setting. None of those things put TNA in a position to compete with WWE.

All that said, moving to Monday nights is not a bad idea (although doing it as a one-time experiment could have disastrous results and make Spike gun shy about making the move permanent.) If the Monday Night Wars left us with anything it is the broad recognition that Monday Night is wrestling night. ROH and HDNet were wise enough to figure this out when they moved their program to Monday Night.

So while I don’t think for a second that TNA, as we know it today, could ever come close – much less beat – WWE in a ratings battle, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Impact’s ratings climb a bit (and just a bit) as more fans are apt to watch wrestling on a Monday night than they are a Thursday night. If TNA ever were to move permanently to Monday nights, they would be wise to run 8 to 10 p.m., so they can have that first hour to itself.

Everyone has his prediction of what rating TNA will do on January 4. Some are expecting ratings in the 2’s, which TNA would have to see as a major success. Other are expecting a disaster in the range of 0.8 or lower. I’ll predict they do around a 1.2.

What do you think?

-Al Castle


Pro Wrestling Illustrated said...

2.2. There will be a lot of flipping back and forth between Impact and Raw.

Stu Saks/Publisher

Jay Cal said...

Outside of TNA advertising on USA, I don't think you are going to get traditional WWE fans to switch over to TNA. I think Impact will benefit slightly from the move, but don't see the rating being any higher than 1.6-1.8.

Even with Hogan in the Impact zone, he probably won't be wrestling and just an appearance isn't going to get the attention of the casual wrestling fan.

Pro Wrestling Illustrated said...

Even if Impact were to break the 2.0 barrier on Jan.4, what good will that do TNA in the long haul? Not much at all. The more important challenge for TNA will be following up whatever it does on Jan4. Otherwise it's back down to 1.0-0.9 for Impact. I just hope whatever Hogan comes up with it isn't a WCW reunion. An RVD appearance would be compelling
-- Frank Krewda

Michael said...

Very interesting take on the situation. I agree. I don't think TNA will pose a serious threat. Here's to hoping they don't make the same mistakes WCW did. I look forward to a future Monday Night War. I just don't think it will start on January 4.

Delliott said...

hmm very good post, I expect a 1.3 rating

again very good post

Frank Boss said...

I agree with Delliott, as TNA will probably do a bit better than usual (1.3 to 1.5). TNA is not WCW; they do not have the market share or history that WCW had back in 1995. Plus, it is only for one night. WWE is a lot stronger now than it was back then. TNA should concentrate on its own product instead of trying to take down McMahon's. WCW had a lot of things going for it back then. TNA just does not have everything aligned. Making money is what TNA needs to focus on. While the Monday night show is well worth the risk, it is in no way a guarantee deal maker for the company.