Impact Wrestling started off the new year on a new network, moving away from Spike TV and over to Destination America on January 7, 2015. They have a new logo, fresh theme music, a revamped ring, and have added former WWE announcer Josh Mathews to their own announce team. They have also added two new series, TNA Wrestling’s Greatest Matches and Impact Wrestling: Unlocked. Impact’s premiere episode on January 7th was live, but the following shows have been pretaped, as they were with Spike. Tapings have been occurring at the Manhattan Center’s Grand Ballroom in New York City, with the exception of some shows taped during their UK tour in Glasgow and London. They also made a recent trip to Universal Studios in Orlando and will be making return trips in March and April.
The ratings on Destination America are solid and the instant feedback on social media has been positive, but Impact doesn’t have the bankroll of the WWE and it shows. Wrestling relies heavily on the element of surprise in order to hold viewer interest, and that element is completely lost when you begin pretaping shows, especially when doing so weeks in advance. A title reign can seem to last a month as we watch on TV, but only last a week in reality due to the condensed filming schedule. Results are posted online, updated on Wikipedia pages, and discussed on Facebook and Twitter. It’s great that there is an online buzz, but it hurts the company in the long run. I wanted to write a predictions article for Lockdown, but quickly realized it was pointless, as anyone could hit Google and get a play by play before the show even aired.
Impact has a seriously solid roster. Abyss, the monster that didn’t go corporate and start wresting in dress pants. Austin Aries, who is a hell of a performer if you ignore the cape. Bobby Roode, Eric Young, Kurt Angle and Bobby Lashley, the four men who we’re guaranteed to see in the main event. The Wolves, one hell of a dominant tag team. Matt and Jeff Hardy, who need no explanation. Havok and Awesome Kong, two of the most frightening female wrestlers around. Ethan Carter III, who is absolute gold on the microphone, and his heavy, Tyrus, AKA Brodus Clay. Tommy Dreamer. Need I go on? Along with these big talents comes great matches. I don’t know how Jeff Hardy is still alive after half the stunts he pulls. The Knockout matches always come with a “Better Than Divas!” chant from the crowd. The newly formed Beat Down Clan may have an unfortunate name, but they have been causing hell in and out of the ring and were responsible for the shocking heel turn of Eric Young. Impact had an entire night of nothing but cage matches, which included the Knockouts match. With all this firepower, you would think they would be able to do better and move to live taping, but I see no indication of that becoming a reality.
Their arena of choice, Manhattan Center’s Grand Ballroom, has a concert seating capacity of 1,200, which will be less considering the set up of the ring. Impact had no problem selling this venue out for Lockdown, but other tapings were said to only have an average of 400 fans in attendance, using dim lighting to mask the empty seats. Overseas, Impact has no problem selling out arena to its UK fans, but the fans back home seem to be a problem. One major issue is using the same arena time and time again. Orlando makes more sense, as Universal is a huge vacation spot and sees a lot of travel and tourists. There’s also multiple other attractions nearby for adults or families with children, giving people multiple excuses to travel. NYC is also a hotspot, but you see more of a local crowd there, especially during the cold winter months. Fans can only attend so many events before getting burned out, and I fear that is what is happening with the NYC crowd. The locals are bored and the out-of-towners don’t feel the need to travel, especially not in winter. If Impact continues relying on two or three venues, plus overseas events, they aren’t going to progress and move past this pre-taped nonsense.
I don’t know if Impact will ever get to the point where it’s considered a direct and serious competitor with the WWE, I just know that it has the potential to do so and it has the talent to make it happen (sans Samoa Joe who is reportedly leaving the company.) They have made their product into something that, on most days, is better than what the WWE is giving us. They have been consistently bringing us strong matches and solid storylines since transitioning to Destination America. They don’t keep it PG and they don’t break kayfabe. If they can only get a little financial nudge in the right direction, they could very well knock WWE back on its ass a bit. Smackdown has been struggling lately, so now is the perfect time for Impact to step up and rule the ring at the end of our week.
Article by Mrs. Jamie Baker