THE SPECIALISTS TUCKER'S INSTANT REACTION - TNA Impact 7/11: What worked and did not work on this week's episode
Jul 11, 2014 - 12:10:37 AM
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Instant Reaction - TNA Impact 7/11
By Ben Tucker, PWTorch TV specialist
Overall Score - 6.0
It's been several months since I wrote a rampaging tirade on the TNA product. While I've watched the show in bits and pieces since then, tonight was the first time in a long while that I watched the program without interruption or distraction. And, while the same problems persist, there does remain a solid amount of opportunity for the company to gain momentum. Impact this week was a competent two-hour program. The real question is whether or not they're doing enough to stand out.
The short answer is no. TNA, as has been well-documented on this site numerous times before, lacks an identity. Alongside this flaw, the company hasn't done enough to evolve its presentation and in-ring content. WWE prides itself today on all-around wrestlers such as Seth Rollins, who can cut promos, work a main event level match, and still deliver a healthy amount of athleticism that simply wasn't seen outside of the cruiserweight or X Divisions of the world until a few years ago.
TNA's X Division today, in contrast, has regressed after the company decided to ignore one of the biggest reasons their company gained popularity. The Division's once innovative matches are now either throwaway three-minute spotfests with tired spots, or contests such as the X Division Title match between Austin Aries and Sanada, which featured lucha-esque no-selling and spots that would feel commonplace in a typical Raw match. TNA continues to reject their unique identity in the hopes of hanging onto the coattails of WWE. In every other division the same problem is reached. TNA isn't standing out, and the product is suffering.
This would not be an issue if the roles were reversed. WWE got away with emulating ECW because they had a larger install base of viewers. Trying to copy the most popular guy in the room makes you look bad. It's not fair, but it's true. There's no way to top the original at what they got popular doing, so change it up. TNA has never gotten over by emulating WWE just as WCW never got over emulating WWE in its dying days. No one wants to listen to a cover band if the real artist is performing a block away.
This is truly the biggest problem with TNA. They have plenty of star power. As it stands, the roster is chock full of potential main-eventers; James Storm, Bobby Roode, Mr. Anderson, Jeff Hardy, MVP's clique, Bully Ray, etc. Yet, I can't invest in their storylines surrounding power struggles when it's being done on a much more professional (and entertaining) scale in WWE.
ECW legacy stars feuding yet again feels stale because it really isn't anything new. TNA constantly attempts to recapture the past when its brightest moments come from the future. ECIII and Rockstar Spud single-handedly steal the show every single time they're on camera. They're new, fresh, and talented stars. Why can't the company focus more in this direction for once in five years?
Create new stars, focus on separate divisions, change up the show's presentation (not necessarily changing the ring to be six-sided), and always look to the future.
Speaking of presentation, and as a bit of an aside, TNA also needs to make their shows much more cohesive. The battle royal featured a Beer Money face-off that was completely ignored as the announcers went to break. A show that was taped a month ago included audio of Mike Tenay yelling that Bobby Roode was eliminated when it was in fact James Storm who was thrown out. TNA cameramen, much like the product as a whole, try to mimic WWE crew by zooming in and immediately out during moves to increase their visual impact, but they aren't nearly experienced enough for it to look good. Clean your act up, TNA.
As for tonight, it was an all right show with solid wrestling and a whole bunch of underlying problems that need to be addressed. And until they are, TNA will continue to play catch-up to WWE and continue to struggle to gain new viewers.
Any questions or comments? Message me on Twitter @BTuckertorch!
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