Looking At Impact’s Venture To Mexico

Earlier this week, Impact Wrestling announced that it will hold its next set of TV tapings next month in Mexico City, Mexico. This latest announcement continues the organization’s steady progress toward a more stable product since Executive Vice President Don Callis and Scott D’Amore were hired under the Anthem Sports Banner late last year. With the company based in Toronto, most of the recent production was filmed there, including the Slammiversary pay-per-view, an event that garnered generally favorable reviews.

This venture into Mexico isn’t exactly a new concept, as TNA/Impact had a working agreement with various groups south of the border over the years, but a set of tapings, which will produce weeks of TV is an important step for the Anthem group. Instead of just a group of talent working Mexican shows, this announcement brings the Impact brand to Mexico, which has several benefits to the promotion. Most importantly, the optics of the tour give an indication that the company isn’t just content with filming a show for a time slot in front of smaller crowds in Canada, but rather a truly international brand.

Keep in mind, perception is reality in many situations. When TNA taped dimly-lit TV with small crowds or ran house shows in mostly empty venues during the latter stages of the Dixie Carter era, it gave the impression that the product was minor league. Thankfully, the current management hasn’t repeated those mistakes, and are wise enough not to attempt to rush the rebuilding process. As I said when I penned an article about Slammiversary, one of the few criticisms I had of the pay-per-view was the venue because it looked small and the lighting didn’t suit a TV production at all. However, I also pointed out that it could’ve been a budget decision, and it’s better to have a packed smaller venue than for the audience to look empty. Again, the optics can give an impression about the product.

While the new regime did tape some of the shows earlier this year in Orlando, the most recent TV was broadcast from Toronto, which brought a more energetic atmosphere for the show. I wrote it for years, when you tape a program in front of an audience with free admission, you might get people in the seats, but you don’t necessarily get to truly gauge the value of the product. When fans have to buy tickets to attend an event, they must literally invest in the product so that is a more realistic look at the status of an entertainment project. Remember, the entire point of business is revenue and profit. The nearly nonexistent paying audiences during the Dixie era were an indication that her organization couldn’t generate revenue or become profitable.

Anthem’s Impact ran select shows in the United States this year, which is smart because again, they know it’s a process to build their product. These Mexican shows will almost certainly draw a good crowd, considering the market and the lucha stars already on the Impact roster. This is another reason that Mexico City will draw more energetic crowds than the Orlando shows and thus, a better overall television product.

It goes without saying that the lucha influence is probably what made this set of tapings possible, and the introduction of various luchadors is a win-win situation for everyone involved. More specifically, Pentagon is one of the most charismatic and dynamic performers in the industry, and Impact has given him a national platform in the United States. I understand that Lucha Underground has a diehard following, but that product is strictly a TV venture on smaller network so that platform won’t garner him the national exposure that his skills deserve. Fenix, Pentagon’s real-life brother, is another great addition to the Impact roster that deserves more exposure than is realistically possible from LU. That’s not a jab at Lucha Underground either, but rather a realistic view of the TV clearance they have on the El Rey network. For Anthem, the luchadors give them something unique to promote and will itself to the process to build a brand identity. One of the aspects of this that Callis and D’Amore deserves a lot of credit for is how simple promos and interviews with subtitles have allowed Pentagon to be used more effectively to build the angle with Sami Callihan. For years, the Hispanic market was talked about in the United States, but very few were able to capitalize on it because the lack of speaking English was a perceived hurdle. However, the use of Pentagon proves that if a performer is over with the audience then it will translate regardless of any language barrier.

As mentioned, Impact management know enough to understand that building their brand is a process, and this trip to Mexico certainly helps add to the brand identity. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, it’s quite remarkable that Impact Wrestling still exist, considering it was on the brink of collapse with Dixie Carter. It’s even more remarkable that the group has made progress and it’s a credit to the management team for the direction of the company.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta