Friday 18 May 2012

Announcement Wars

Thursday 17th May saw noteworthy announcements from the western world’s two most notable wrestling promotions.
First WWE announced that beginning on July 23rd Monday Night RAW will be a three hour show, starting one hour earlier than it currently does. Not to be outdone TNA announced that IMPACT will air live on May 31st and that the trend will continue "through the summer." They followed that up a short while later with the less noteworthy news that Brooke Bollea (daughter of Hulk Hogan and failed pop starlet) has signed a contract with the organisation to appear as the Executive in Charge of the Knockouts Division. She will naturally be using the stage name of Brooke Hogan.
Let's start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we? TNA does not need another on-screen authority figure. They already have Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter. That’s one too many. Plus it's only a matter of time before Eric Bischoff shows up as a TV regular again, at which point he will no doubt have some sort of match-making ability. More to the point there are less than a dozen female performers in TNA. Does such a sparsely populated Knockouts roster really need an Executive exclusively dedicated to it? Of course not. If it did then it would certainly require someone with more credibility in the world of wrestling than Brooke.
Brooke's leap into the world of wrestling is not dissimilar to Garrett Bischoff’s. Neither has paid any dues (the time honoured wrestling tradition of grafting for very little or no pay and constantly losing your matches while you work your way up the card in the eyes of your peers and fans) which will create resentment from fans and wrestlers alike. There’s simply no reason or need for Brooke to be appearing in the IMPACT Zone.
If she wants to be involved in the wrestling business that's great. Considering who her father there would be interest in her as a novelty act if nothing else. Being in charge of the Knockouts division is not her route to the top though. If TNA wants Brooke to be a boon for them then she should be posted to OVW for a year or two. There she could learn how to wrestle before being called up to IMPACT to be used as an active wrestler. That's what TNA needs, not more people conducting twenty minute promo segments on a weekly basis.
WWE's announcement of RAW becoming a three hour show has been expected ever since people noticed the show was being advertised to start an hour earlier than planned from July 27th. There are rumours that it will be used as a pre-show. If that's the case then it could work out to be a good move, though that will depend largely on what WWE believes a pre-show should consist of. There's potential in that idea and that's what I'm hoping the plan is.

Look on the bright side: RAW getting more time means Alex Riley is likelier to wrestle on the show...
If, on the other hand, WWE are simply going to be promoting the same product but with an additional hour this is an absurd move. The creative team are struggling to write two hours of captivating television each Monday as it is. A third hour will only serve to exacerbate the situation. It won’t improve the product and stands a good chance of making it worse. It would have been a better idea to concentrate on improving the quality of the timeslot they currently have before obtaining an extra hour.

I would imagine that Brock Lesnar has indirectly played a part in this decision. By running three hours RAWs every Monday WWE can get more screen time out of ‘The Pain’ without eating up more of his limited appearances.
It's also worth noting that RAW routinely features a fifteen minute overrun. That means it actually runs for two hours and fifteen minutes rather than exactly two hours. This may not seem like much but if the trend continues it will mean that RAW runs for a whopping three hours and fifteen minutes. Nobody needs that much wrestling every Monday night no matter how much they like wrestling.
Three hour weekly shows didn't do Nitro any favours. Maybe Vince and company should watch some of that videotape library they bought.
The best news is TNA’s announcement that IMPACT will be going live. This is something they should have done long ago. The positives should be obvious: live TV means no spoilers, which means it's easier to surprise fans, build interest for big televised matches and increase ratings. It will make IMPACT seem a more spontaneous, exciting product and will hopefully serve to encourage better viewing figures.
The next logical step will be to broadcast IMPACT from different locations. Hopefully the company won't wait too long to do that. For now though they deserve praise for finally taking the plunge and broadcasting their flagship show live.
It's nice to see TNA giving us more reason to be happy than WWE. Brooke Hogan may not be a particularly thrilling signing (especially on the heels of a man encouraging crossover in King Mo) but lives IMPACTs are great news. If TNA plays things right they could use this as a way to reboot their product. But then we’ve heard that before, haven’t we?

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