With TNA’s Final Resolution PPV fast approaching, I thought I’d look back at 2011 and consider what could be improved upon for the coming year.
1. PUSH THE PEOPLE WHO DESERVE IT
Admittedly, who “deserves” a push is entirely subjective. But at times, Impact Wrestling can be rife with random monster pushes and blatant nepotism. Whether its Eric Bischoff’s son, Garret, spontaneously taking the main event slot for no good reason, Crimson’s Goldberg imitation or Jeff Hardy’s unchecked drug addiction still resulting in huge paydays and World Title reigns. Sometimes they back the wrong horse and bet the farm.
I don’t want to be entirely negative though, as in rare cases, TNA rewards those that genuinely deserve it. Bobby Roode and James Storm being the two most notable instances from the past year. As Beer Money, they were the backbone of the Tag Team division and have quickly proved themselves cornerstones of Singles competition. In all of wrestling, the only person who’s had a better push this year is CM Punk. The fact I can mention both Roode and Storm in the same breath as Punk says it all.
The lesson that should be learned from this is that TNA should take advantage of their loyal mainstays and not forget them in favour of WWE rejects, family loyalties or pet projects. I’m sure Kazarian wouldn’t mind the attention!
2. A DIVISION NEEDS MORE THAN TWO PEOPLE
I hate to generalise, but most Championship divisions in TNA are operating with minimal contenders, causing frequent repeats of combinations we’ve already seen. Frankly, everything except the Heavyweight division has grown stagnant.
The X Division has been plagued by endless recycling of matchups featuring some variation of Brian Kendrick, Jesse Sorensen and Kid Kash. I absolutely love Austin Aries as the X Division Champion, but he’s blown through feuds with all three men and the only other X Division competitor I’ve seen in the past six months was a random appearance from Zema Ion (where did all those Destination X guys go?!?!?). Similarly, the Television Title landscape is as barren as Kurt Angle’s hairline. Beyond Eric Young and Robbie E bickering over it, I can’t even remember the last person who showed an interest (who can blame them, that belt looks filthy). As for the Tag Team divisions, both male and female can barely even muster Champions, let alone contenders.
I’m not saying there have to be ten or more people per division, all angling for a title shot, but there should be a palpable sense of competition. Maybe speed up the turnover between contenders a little, so where one wrestler fails, there’s a discernible pecking order and someone else takes their place. Make it so a Champion can legitimately say “I’ve beaten the best”, instead of “I beat whoever could be bothered”.
3. KNOCKOUTS SHOULD GET BACK TO BASICS AKA WRESTLING
As much as I like to see beautiful women in lingerie and bikinis, we’re a little beyond that now, aren’t we? TNA have a solid foundation for a Knockouts division, even rivalling its own heyday. With the masterful Gail Kim back in the division where she belongs, and a killer rival in Mickie James, we should strap ourselves in for a series of epic matches. I’m not forgetting the rest of the division either, as it’s so much more than just two women. Velvet Sky really stepped up her game this year and was happily rewarded with a Knockouts Title reign for all her hard work. She could still use a little polishing on her in-ring work, but the basics are sound and you’d struggle to find a better character out there. Other viable contenders for the Championship are Tara, Angelina, ODB, Madison Rayne, Sarita, etc. So many of these women are showing up to work, only to be used in backstage segments or as valets. When in reality, they should be out in the ring, kicking each other’s asses just like the men. Give them another chance, they won’t disappoint. These aren’t Divas, they’re Knockouts!
4. GET OUT OF THE IMPACT ZONE ASAP
If Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff ever did one good thing for TNA, it’s pushing them to go out on the road and tape Impact at proper arenas. I wouldn’t dismiss the Impact Zone entirely, as it’s an important part of their heritage and always handy to fall back on. Regardless, the recent live tapings of Impact have looked fantastic and really upped the stakes going forward. The real question is when they should break out this party favour. I’d prefer them taping Impact at Universal Studios, with PPVs on the road, to take advantage of the larger crowd (for the climax of feuds). Unfortunately, TNA’s business model has always been back to front, with TV making them more money than PPV, putting them in the strange position of wanting the free product to look better and the paid product to look worse. Either way, more live tapings please. They work wonders for all involved.
In the past six months, TNA have rightly been in the process of expanding their repertoire. They’ve grown closer than ever before with the Mexican promotion AAA (so much so, Jeff Jarrett has been their Heavyweight Champion for the better part of the year), struck a developmental deal with OVW (notorious for producing some of WWE’s biggest stars), filmed a pilot for an experimental new concept called All Wheels Wrestling and finally, they are on the verge of tapings for a new Indian brand. TNA’s reach has grown by leaps and bounds, putting them squarely on a global scale few others can compete with.
While continuing such monumental moves, I’d encourage them to also consolidate their existing output, namely the International-only show, Xplosion. In its current format, it typically features one exclusive match (of a lower card nature), Jeremy Borash’s Spin Cycle, Impact Wrestling recaps and a classic match from the archives. While an effective way to put out an hour of television with maximum gain and minimal effort, I’ve always looked upon the show as a missed opportunity. TNA should seriously petition their American network, Spike TV, to air the show and as a result, make it more relevant. The often packed card of Impact Wrestling can be eased as certain talents are moved over to Xplosion and everyone on both shows gets more airtime than they typically would otherwise. It doesn’t need to be stretched to two hours or even be a brand to itself, it merely has to be a legitimate show with its own unique content. Think about it.