Thursday 26 April 2012

Open Fight Night

If you're familiar with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling you should know that once every six months or so the company promises its fans great changes. Words and phrases like "revolutionary", "groundbreaking" and "game changing" get bandied about as TNA's decision makers, Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter being the most prominent, start promising that TNA is going to change and become the company we all want it to be. Suffice it to say that since this cycle started several years ago TNA has not changed to any significant degree. The biggest change has been the signing of Hogan himself, and that's made no difference whatsoever.
TNA have recently entered one of these periods. Dixie Carter (overexcitable president of the company) has taken to Twitter to tell fans that there are lots of changes coming to the TNA product in the coming months and lots of surprises in store for June's Slammiversary pay-per-view. That's the show that will mark TNA's tenth anniversary so the news that big plans are being made is welcome. We don't need to be told though. The lead up to the event and the event itself should be what excites fans, not promises of the build-up. Telling us big things are planned only serves to heighten expectations and detract from the sense of anticipation, one of the most enjoyable elements of wrestling.
The latest attempt to reinvent TNA has also (predictably) hit IMPACT. Not satisfied with simply incorporating changes and letting fans notice for themselves the promotion instead decided to have Hulk Hogan dedicate a fifteen minute promo to the topic. That was patronising not only to fans but also to the champions who were made to stand in the ring while the GM painstakingly explained the alterations to the way IMPACT will work from now on.

Open Fight Night is coming to IMPACT, brother! 
That the champions were made to stand there and either nod and clap (faces) or shake their heads and mutter off mic (heels) just made them look like extras on the Hulk Hogan Show. They're meant to be the best TNA has to offer, not a bunch a voiceless nonentities too scared or awed to interrupt 'The Immortal One'. That Hogan was the star of that segment showed that the very changes he was discussing are not actually forthcoming.
Want to know what delights Hogan has in store for IMPACT viewers over the coming weeks? Of course you do! Who wouldn't? Firstly the TNA world television championship will be defended every week. That means we're guaranteed a weekly Devon match. As if that wasn't fun enough there's also Open Fight Night to be held once a month. That will feature a wrestler not contracted to TNA challenging any champion for their title.
That the TNA creative team have nothing better to offer us than this is worrying. The news of Devon having guaranteed airtime is an annoyance but it's not catastrophic. There is a bright side to be seen: he may lose the title to a wrestler who actually deserves that level of exposure.
There's no such silver lining to be found with Open Fight Night. By allowing outsiders to come into the promotion and challenge for the world title TNA are devaluing their top belt and their entire main event scene. Why should we care about Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy or James Storm toiling for a title opportunity when some random indy wrestler that nobody's ever heard of can come in and claim a shot? It makes TNA look  like a very small operation. If they want to be America's number two promotion they have to avoid that label at all costs.
Perhaps there are long term plans to use these Open Fight Nights to elevate Bobby Roode as a heel or introduce a new star. I hope TNA has something planned because at the moment it just looks like a great way to make titles and wrestlers mean less. That's not going to do anyone any good.


  1. TNA is grasping at straws. They refuse to acknowledge that their primary problems are an overreliance on ageing wrestlers/general managers and the inability to piece together a coherent wrestling show.

    This week we saw the final segment dedicated to Eric Bischoff, who was last relevant in, maybe, 2003. We also had an inordinate amount of airtime dedicated to Hulk Hogan, whose star has dimmed considerably over the last ten years. Not to mention the unfortunate reliance upon former WWE stars who show up on Impact and are able to monopolize the top spots (Booby Roode and James Storm are exceptions that prove the rule) while putting no one over.

    Creatively TNA has shown the word that their incompetence was not the fault of Vince Russo. Many wrestling fans thought that once Russo was gone TNA would be at least watchable. Unfortunately, the creative minds at TNA have shown that the inability to leave the mid-90's wrestling mindset was not due the presence of Russo.

    TNA needs help, the author is right, they don't need to shout out to fans that they are changing, just do it. Let the boomers retire. Let the former WWE stars go back to WWE for a brief run and a legends contract. Show us that wrestling matters and develop new stars.

    1. TNA's best bet right now would be to release everyone under the age of forty and concentrate on giving audiences lengthy wrestling matches. Keep storylines going but make them related to wins and losses as opposed to the sort of tosh we've seen between Eric and Garrett Bischoff.

      A product based around matches involving the likes of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, the Guns and Austin Aries would be worth watching. We're unlikely to see it any time soon though.