Thursday 6 August 2015

Total Non-Stop Networking

TNA is dying, albeit very slowly. It's been dying for a while now. Long enough for this not to be the first time I've started a post by talking about the promotion's fascinating spiral into history. Truth be told it's been dying for years. Easily since the time Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff were signed (to unwarranted fanfare in retrospect) to big money contracts. Likely since years before then.

EC3 wins lol.
But what if it's actually not dying? What if TNA has a future? The company is furiously recording TV content while it can and although all the rumours under the sun assert that Destination America is going to cut ties with the fed as soon as they're contractually able (next month, apparently) company management are unlikely to simply shrug their collective (or should that be metaphorical?) shoulders and meekly accept their fate. They will actively look for a new home for Impact Wrestling, the most underwhelming weekly wrestling show known to humankind.

Which brings me to my point. One option open to TNA, should they be prepared to negotiate (and let's face it, they need to be prepared to negotiate), is to take Impact to the Gabe Sapolsky-fronted World Wrestling Network. Yes, I'm brushing over a lot of wrestling politics and grudges with the "negotiating" term there but it's not impossible. Representatives from WWN and TNA could all sit down in a room together and work something out. On the surface it may sound a ridiculous suggestion but it's impossible. It could happen.

Both companies would benefit from a working relationship. WWN would get a regular stream of fresh content to add to their website each week. Despite its many faults TNA still seems to have a loyal group of fans who will stick with it no matter what. They'd sign up to WWN in order to keep up with their wrestling promotion of choice, netting WWN some dosh and giving them a larger audience to market their other shows at.

There was talk a while ago of WWN offering subscriber deals. The current trouble with this seems to be the irregular schedules of their various leagues. You can't charge people a flat rate every month without giving them assurances on a minimum amount of new content. TNA could help fix this with a weekly episode of Impact and monthly or bi-monthly specials. If at least one weekend of EVOLVE shows could be guaranteed each month (and that doesn't seem too much of a stretch given the recent increased output) then you'd have a fair basis for some sort of subscription deal. If TNA's back catalogue could somehow be utilised so much the better. There are some gems from the first few years of TNA in particular that could help a streaming service attract viewers.

Meanwhile TNA would find the thing it needs most: a home. It would also give them access to new talent, something they'll always be in need of but are particularly desperate for right now. They'd almost certainly have to reformat their presentation to fit in with the umbrella style of WWN but that wouldn't be that bad a thing: TNA's needed an overhaul for years. The prospect of Gabe Sapolsky taking over as the company's lead creative force is a nice one but too ridiculous to get excited about, even for an article as farfetched as this one.

I know it's unrealistic. TNA bosses likely wouldn't want to take a step away from being on an actual television channel because of the negative connotations of such a move. TV means you're a success, only having an internet presence is small time. WWN quite possibly wouldn't be able to handle a weekly two hour show, live or not. If they could take care of it from a technological standpoint and they could attract audiences surely they'd be doing it already.

Which raises the subject of the value of the TNA brand name. Personally I don't think there's much worth to the TNA name at all. I've acknowledged there's a dedicated group (sect is probably a more fun word to use here) that would follow TNA anywhere but they only account for a small portion of the promotion's TV viewership, and that's not a massive number these days as it is. There's also WWN's unofficial status as WWE's indy feeder group of choice. They wouldn't want to risk that, especially for a company as toxic as TNA.

EVOLVE and OTFG champion Timothy Thatcher
could be a good addition to the TNA roster.
Realistically, the closest we'll come to seeing this suggestion play out is TNA moving to some other US channel barely anybody's heard of after Destination America dumps them and striking some sort of deal with WWN to do lengthy monthly or bi-monthly streams to replace the pay-per-views they can no longer afford to produce. For all Eric Bischoff's talk of the PPV model being outdated for modern wrestling it helps instil a necessary sense of pacing to a wrestling product and, when done right, creates a reliable source of income. It is, in other words, something TNA needs to give itself structure and a sense of momentum. Because it's a company that's always followed that rhythm. It's ingrained in everyone that works there and the people that watch it.

TNA never got the whole making money from pay-per-views thing right. WWN seems to make enough to tick over and keep everyone involved getting paid. Gaining exposure via a TNA that has Impact on some low rent TV channel or other would be good for WWN in the long term and would provide TNA with the platform it requires to implement the structure it needs. It seems like a natural pairing to me, despite the obvious political problems of the scenario.

But I know it won't happen.

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