Impact Wrestling has a major opportunity within the landscape of the industry.
At a time when the crowded wrestling landscape of the modern era will get even more jam-packed with the addition of All Elite Wrestling’s two-hour Saturday night show that launches in just a few weeks, the commitment it will take to follow one of the contemporary organizations will theoretically double. Don’t get me wrong, there are more options and alternatives for fans now than any other time in history, because despite a shrinking audience across the board during the pandemic era, the advancements of technology allow for any demographic of fan to find something they enjoy that will fit into their schedule. Keep in mind, there are countless streaming, television, and podcast options now, with each entity trying to draw viewers or listeners to their platform.
As sports entertainment rebounds from the pandemic, the television numbers aren’t on an upswing that would suggest the demand for more content, which isn’t a knock against the quality, but rather an indication of the amount of competition that is there for viewers. There are only so many hours in the day and even less of those hours can be dedicated to leisure time, with an even smaller potion of that being allotted for pro wrestling content.
I’ve written in a few articles recently about the pitfalls of the addition of another two hours on the AEW line-up, as it will technically require that viewers dedicate two hours of a Saturday night to follow the product. I detailed the micro-level of the booking hurdles that another prime time show creates, as well as the obstacles of selling twice the amount of tickets for live events for the company’s tours. On the macro-level of the equation, there’s always a point of over saturation, which is what the entertainment business saw with a flood of streaming options when countless media entities wanted a piece of the pie. As with anything else, the market will determine what platforms flourish and what ones didn’t make the cut with the competition for the streaming dollar.
If All Elite Wrestling hits its over saturation point with the addition of Collision to its schedule remains to be seen.
Where this involves Impact Wrestling, the group that Anthem Entertainment, parent company of The Fight Network, rescued from the brink of collapses several years ago, is there’s an opening for them to be an alternative product without the weekly viewing experience that seems more like a chore than an entertainment option. As much as some contrarian fans might not want to admit it, the WWE is the leader of the industry and the tide turns based on the moves the publicly-traded corporation makes in the business, an aspect that was magnified after the Endeavor merger. With that amount of cash and media muscle behind it, the concept of competition for WWE is almost moot. The WWE will represent, at least to the general public, the typical example of pro wrestling in the United States. With that, diehard fans will at least keep an eye on the direction of the McMahon product, again because of the ripple effect the company has on the rest of the industry.
At the same time, when there’s a standard, there will always be a demand for an alternative. The launch of All Elite Wrestling was based on the demand for that variety within the sport. The novelty of a new organization naturally wore off after the first few years and the substance of the promotion has yielded mixed results. That’s not to say that the Khan-owned league hasn’t found success, as the fact that Warner-Discovery offered them a prime time slot is proof that even with some of the valid criticisms, Tony did something right. On the flip side, as I wrote recently, the concern is that Collision could over saturate the audience, similar to the way that Thunder did for WCW, and could actually hinder the company on a long-term basis.
For Impact Wrestling, a group that was understandably tailored to a Canadian audience, which is why Anthem bought the organization since it did great numbers north of the boarder, there’s an opportunity to offer fans the alternative they’re looking for with just one show a week. Trying to keep up with the storylines or the angles doesn’t have to seem like a homework assignment for wrestling fans, which is sometimes the case for AEW, especially with the references that are often too inside baseball for most viewers.
Adding Impact Wrestling to your wrestling schedule doesn’t take a considerable amount of commitment on a weekly basis, and ironically, when the product is given a chance to be seen, it checks all the boxes of a solid wrestling show. Granted, Anthem bought AXS to give Impact a television home in the United States, but that still has relatively low clearance compared to USA or TNT.
That being said, this weekend’s Under Siege, which almost got lost in the shuffle of Night of Champions and Double or Nothing, was an example of the quality the company can bring to the table if given the chance from viewers. A match-by-match breakdown, especially on such a full weekend of shows, would be moot. Quite simply, Trinity and Gisele Shaw had a solid women’s bout, Chris Sabin and Trey Miguel was a quality X-Division match, and Steve Maclin vs. PCO was an entertaining brawl for the main event with a great post-match angle with the attack on Scott D’Amore. There are very few performers in the sport that can work the heel role as effective as Bully Ray.
There wasn’t a subpar match on the card, and Impact could be that alternative to WWE that so many fans look for without the unrealistic commitment to almost half a dozen hours of programming to keep up with to stay fully informed on the product. Impact arguably offers more variety on its shows than another other group in the United States and it only requires two hours a week to get all of the content. If Impact can garner more consistent viewership to the shows with its limited clearance might be a difficult hurdle, but it seems like there’s an opportunity within the current dynamics of the industry for the company to take its cache in the business to the next level within the landscape of the industry.
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Until next week
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