Looking at the “New Era” of TNA Impact Wrestling

The recent “Lock down” pay-per-view was promoted as a new era for TNA, which is something the company has tried before and very similar to previous attempts, it yielded mixed results at the PPV. One of the criticisms of TNA the past few years is that the promotion is presented as “WWE Lite” and they didn’t establish their own brand. As part of a deal Jeff Jarrett made before his departure from TNA, the company has a working agreement with the Wrestle-1 promotion. There was a talent exchange, including TNA taping a PPV event at a Wrestle-1 show and some Japanese talent is booked for TNA. Sanada won the X Division title during the TNA tour of Japan and it seems like he will be appearing for the company on a regular basis, as he defended the title at a recent TV taping. There was a six man tag at Lock down with The Great Muta, Sanada, and Yasu vs. Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, and Chris Sabin. The booking of international talent is a very wise decision for the promotion because it’s something different than the WWE product. The other international talent on the card was Tigre Uno, who is known as Extreme Tiger in AAA in Mexico. The problem with booking the international stars for the PPV was that TNA barely promoted their appearances prior to the show. There was almost zero mention of the Wrestle-1 team on TNA TV before Lock down and considering they had access to footage of them from the Japanese taping, there could have been a video package to promote The Great Muta appearing in the United States.

For some prespective of the situation, The Great Muta is a legend and in some ways, he’s The Undertaker of Japan with the gimmick and accomplishments at many of the major companies in Japan. Obviously, Muta had several injuries over the past few years and he isn’t the going to be the same performer he was a decade ago, but the six man tag format allowed him to do a few key spots while Sanada and Yasu worked the majority of the match. The point is, The Great Muta appearance could have been a major selling point for TNA, but similar previous angles, they fumbled the opportunity to promote something unique to TNA. Granted, the company has a track record of extremely low buy rates, but if they would have hyped Muta’s appearance, it would have given them another selling point for the show. As mentioned earlier, Tigre Uno was also booked for the show and again, there was almost zero promotion for another international star. Since TNA has a working agreement with AAA, it seems possible that they could have used a video package to promote Extreme Tiger, especially considering it was mentioned during the broadcast that he wrestled in AAA so it’s not as though he was presented as a brand new character that started in TNA. As I said, the international stars could help TNA establish themselves as their own brand, but lack of promotion and other events from Lock down seem to prove that TNA is content to be seen as a mid card version of WWE.

Bobby Lashley returned to the company and he defeated Ethan Carter III during an open challenge. Lashley debuted for the company in 2009 and he didn’t do anything too stellar during his relatively short run before his departure to train for mixed martial arts. Lashley fought in some smaller MMA organizations and wrestled in Japan the past few years, but hasn’t exactly done anything too major to boost his name value. This isn’t a jab against Lashley, but he’s basically known as another WWE mid carder and is it really necessary for TNA to sign him? How many fans are really going to tune into TNA to see Bobby Lashley? It seems as though this is another case of a competitor getting a spot on the TNA roster because they are a former WWE star. Another case of this is MVP, who improved drastically after his run in New Japan Pro Wrestling but he hasn’t been on main stream TV in the United States for years and he was a mid carder in the WWE. He went from being a mid carder in the WWE and he’s automatically booked for the main angle for TNA. That’s not to say that MVP can’t contribute to the company because his promo work thus far has been the best of his career and as mentioned, he has improved in the ring since his run in WWE, but it seems like TNA’s top talent are secondary to former WWE stars, which is one of the reasons TNA hasn’t established their own brand.

There were some really ridiculous matches and angles booked in TNA history, but after seeing the conclusion to the Magnus vs. Samoa Joe match, you have to wonder if Vince Russo is actually booking again? For those that didn’t watch the clip, Abyss reaches through the canvas and drags Joe under the ring. Joe emerges from underneath the ring and attacks Magnus while waiting to be attacked again. Abyss hits Joe with a weapon and Magnus retains the title. The only problem with the angle is…LOGIC. If Joe was just dragged under the ring, why would he turn his back toward Abyss? Why would he just stand there choking Magnus if he knew Abyss was under the ring? It looked ridiculous and angles that look that goofy are probably one of the reasons why the arena was less than half full during the show. Quite frankly, Samoa Joe deserves better and at 35, WWE might not be an option for him, but TNA isn’t exactly letting his career flourish, considering he could be the top star for the promotion, but he’s booked for ridiculous angles.

The Jeff Hardy “Willow” character debuted at the PPV and he has wrestled a few matches on Impact, but there really isn’t an explanation for the character. It was a wise decision for Hardy to remain some what recognizable with the gimmick because it can utilize his name value, while freshening up his character. Despite the lack of a storyline for the character, Hardy’s run in TNA was getting stable so a new character could rejuvenate his career.

The Lock down pay-per-view was basically a summary of TNA’s booking fumbles for the past few years and there’s a trend of one step forward and two steps back for the company. They booked international talent for a PPV and they barely promote it. They have former WWE stars automatically booked in main event angles and it continues to make TNA stars seem secondary. They also had a another ridiculous angle over shadow a decent PPV. These are all basically the same criticisms about TNA for the past few years and there’s a great roster, but terrible booking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not say I know the answer to improve TNA, but another “new era” will probably be a similar situation to the past few years.

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

Until next week
That’s My Story and I’m Sticking To It

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