By Jerome Wilen
Reports have been out that since Jeff Jarrett has been “sent home” until further notice, TNA President Dixie Carter wants to give IMPACT a more sports oriented feel to it. The first big change was promoting Don West to do what he does best, and that is sell products. What better man for the job that West who has a background not only in radio, but marketing products through the Home Shopping Network, and replacing him with Taz, in which I do agree with many others that he is the best color commentator in the business. Dixie’s idea with putting Taz on the broadcast team is that he can offer that perspective to the television viewer, the perspective of what it is to be like in the ring as a wrestler, much like the color commentators for the NFL who are former players that bring that insight that the play by play person can’t because they have never played in the game, although they have been around it, still there is a difference.
The second big change is giving the officials (referee staff) more control to make decisions, such as re-starting a match, sending wrestlers to the back who may cause interference and even making matches, such as the Danielson/Suicide vs. Samoa Joe and D’Angelo Dinero. The third big change is giving the TNA Knockouts Division a tag team championship. I do agree that if there is one thing TNA has done better than the WWE is women’s wrestling. I have never been a big fan of women’s wrestling, but women such as Awesome Kong, Tara, Alissa Flash and Sarita are more than just “eye candy.” These women can wrestle. They are very talented.
Other changes are showing that they can incorporate Bobby Lashley into wrestling and MMA. At LockDown 2008, the Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe had that MMA feel to it. TNA should try this again with Lashley and Angle at Bound for Glory. If done right again, they could attract a small MMA fan base, but it would take more of these kinds of matches to really do that.
One other difference I did notice with the go home show for the August 16th Hard Justice pay-per view, is that the current creative team is making the storylines more smoother and putting more thought into it to goes on television. The one area that TNA will need to improve on for that more sports oriented feel is longer matches. I recall a year or so ago, Dixie Carter appeared on TNA Today and said that with a 2 hour IMPACT, they were going to incorporate what fans had been asking for, longer matches. I have seen some “spurts” of that here and there when it comes to some main events. A main event that is at least 15 – 20 minutes gives the viewer a reason to tune in and shows the importance of the match. TNA does it with the Knockouts because those match segments continue to be the highest rated part of the show. Maybe they should try it a bit more with the main event part of the show. I am not saying to do away with the backstage stuff or in ring drama, but shorten it up a bit and give more in ring action, after all TNA does stand for Total Non-Stop Action, which is what they bill themselves as being the alternative to the WWE.
Change can be good. In this case, I think Dixie is on the right track and sincere in wanting TNA to make her investment even better. I think it is good for Jeff Jarrett to take time away from creative and bring in fresh ideas. Jeff, I think has been burned out, much like what happened with Eric Bischoff in WCW. Bischoff was trying to be the boss and write TV at the same, which eventually led to stale storylines and a big dip in the ratings. Some have compared TNA to the dying days of WCW. Dixie I think may have heard this more than once, at stepped up as put on her “President Authority” to save the company for going down that path.
Time will tell if the immediate changes will lead to even more internal changes that will show and if it will be good for TNA in the long term.