Thursday 5 June 2014

TNArchy in the UK

Why doesn’t TNA base itself in Britain?

The arguments against this are obvious. All of their employees, from the wrestlers to the ring crew to the caterers, live in the US. That creates a travel issue. For some it would probably create visa issues too. TNA would have to fly their roster over regularly or encourage them to relocate, the latter option seeming massively unlikely. They’d also have to fly over their ring crew, or hire new people to do the same job over here. The former is a huge financial and logistic inconvenience, the latter a move that would almost certainly cause resentment and a good deal of head shaking.

Then there’s the loyal following the company has in the US. No, it’s not much of one but it’s there. It’s possible those fans would feel abandoned or, for want of a better word, cheated if TNA were suddenly a promotion based abroad. That would almost certainly be the case with the crowd TNA gets at its regular haunt in Orlando. TNA is not in a position to be courting displeasure so that’s a pretty big concern.

I also think there would be a stigma attached to moving TNA out of North America. Basically big time wrestling in the west occurs in North America, thanks in large part to the global dominance of Vince McMahon and his merry sports entertainment troupe. TNA already has the stench of inferiority. Moving to another country, no matter what benefits it carried, would look like a retreat, a backward step, an acknowledgment from TNA that they can’t compete in North America. That’s obviously not something TNA should be courting.

But there would be benefits to the relocation. Clearly, otherwise why would I bother suggesting it? 
The obvious one to cite is TNA’s immense popularity in Britain. The group’s annual television tapings in Britain are renowned for attracting the biggest crowds of the year. This year the crowds TNA drew exceeded those they’ve had for pay-per-views in the States. British fans seem keener on the TNA product, perhaps because there are less options for wrestling on a televised level in Britain, making said supporters more interested in seeing a televised product that can challenge WWE’s dominance. If they feel TNA has a shot at doing so they’re wrong, but it would be a neat explanation.

For whatever reason TNA attracts large crowds in Britain and is routinely the most watched programme on Challenge, the channel they air on here. So running tours in Britain would get TNA better crowds. And they’d be able to use arenas of the same sixze they already do but have them filled. That’d be nice for them, I’m sure. 

They’d also have access to a competitive production industry and great talent who would not only be cheap to hire but who are unknowns in mainstream wrestling. An influx of dozens of new names all at once wouldn’t work but if they were staggered and filtered in over time TNA would be able to build up a fresh roster, something they’ve been in desperate need of for a long time now, without paying through the nose. 

Imagine getting to see
this guy more often!
We’re not just discussing British wrestlers here. TNA would be able to make greater use of wrestlers based in mainland Europe (or, more simply, Europe, as tends to be said here) were they based in Britain. Wrestling is big in Germany and Italy, for example. They’d still need to pay travel costs (or at least I assume they would) but it would be less expensive than flying guys to Orlando and would allow TNA to present itself as a global organisation with stars from a variety of countries. 

This wouldn’t necessarily prevent TNA from running shows in the Americas. They could simply spread their efforts there out a little more. In theory that should make TNA a hotter ticket when they return to the homeland, although there we get into the whole quagmire of the booking of the TNA product, which is an entirely different story. Suffice it to say that TNA could cut down to two or three multi-day blocks of television tapings a year in North America for a year or two and not feel any ill-effects from it.

At the moment Britain and Ireland get two WWE tours and one TNA tour a year. Besides that all that’s available are smaller scale independent groups of varying quality. Some of them are great and they bring in talent from all over the world. But they don’t use big arenas and their shows do not have the frequency of TNA’s. For the sort of event we’re discussing you need WWE or TNA. 
The argument to the case in favour of a move is that the UK market would get burnt out quickly. And that’s not entirely unreasonable. At the moment British fans can see TNA as a novelty and an underdog to support as opposition for WWE. People will buy a ticket to go to their local TNA show in Britain regardless of storyline content because the opportunity only comes up once a year. 

It’s a treat, but that would quickly change for most members of the public if TNA became a regular fixture. The boundless optimism of the British public with regard to TNA is a myth, in that it’s not boundless. Overexposure to the nonsense of the average Impact would numb people’s passion and that would lead to decreased ticket sales and less rowdy crowds. Then TNA would be back to the position they’re in now, only they wouldn’t even have a guaranteed hot set of shows to fall back on once a year.

But that would take time to come about. I think TNA could get eighteen months or two years out of Britain if they planned their show dates well enough and managed a marked improvement in storyline content while over here. Personally I’d organise four blocks of TV tapings a year, in London, the northwest, Scotland and Ireland. Those are the areas that seem to have the most passionate TNA fans (and wrestling fans in general) in the British Isles and visiting them once a year would help TNA to avoid oversaturating the market. They could head to the US for the rest of their shows. My excellent maths skills tell me (working on the basis of recording six TV shows over three days every month and a half) that this system would require four returns to North America every year, and that’s assuming they wouldn’t want to do two tapings at the same British Isles location in a year, which they could probably get away with.

On the whole I think a relocation is something that could work to TNA’s advantage. It would let them make better use of their most passionate fans and bring in new talent to create the illusion that they’re a thriving, expanding promotion. That’s precisely what they need to do if they’re to survive.

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