Bell to Bell: The Shifting Landscape
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
The last several days have been big ones for the mainstream wrestling business. We got two major announcements about the future of WWE and TNA television, as well as some controversial news about a new face we’ll be seeing on Impact Wrestling in the near future.
So here’s the big news:
1. Brooke Hogan, Hulk Hogan’s daughter, will be joining TNA as the authority figure for the Knockouts division.
2. Starting May 31, Impact Wrestling will broadcast live from Universal Studios every Thursday at a new time, 8 PM EST.
3. Starting July 23, WWE Raw Supershow will be three hours every Monday night, allegedly with a new interactive format.
I’m going to go ahead and tackle these in what I feel is the order of their importance, and their impact (no pun intended) on the mainstream wrestling scene.
1. Brooke Hogan
Alright, I’m calling this one from the get go. Some time in the next year, Brooke aligns herself with Garrett Bischoff, and they wind up feuding with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Who the heels and babyfaces are, I’m not sure. But I’m guessing Brooke will end up in the ring at least once. She looks to be pretty athletic, and if coached can probably get through a match. Whether it’ll be a good match is another story entirely.
But why bring Brooke Hogan into TNA? Nepotism. That’s why Garrett Bischoff is on our TVs every week, and that’s why Brooke Hogan is about to be there every week. That’s not to say those two aren’t talented. Brooke is actually a pretty good singer, and Garrett Bischoff can do some basic stuff in the ring. But come on…major on screen players on TNA’s only prime time weekly TV show? A show that, in a lot of people’s minds, already suffers from bad booking, stories that make no sense, and leaders who don’t know what they’re doing. It’s not a nail in the coffin, but it’s a solid indicator of what some of Hogan and Bischoff’s priorities are. And hey, I respect Hogan and Bischoff for all they’ve done to shape the wrestling industry as we know it today. But this Brooke Hogan thing is not a good move. It’s going to hurt fans’ perception of TNA, just like Garrett Bischoff’s presence does. It gives people yet another reason to be annoyed by this product, and thus another reason not to tune in.
2. Impact Wrestling going live
In contrast to Brooke Hogan being brought into the picture, Impact going live has the potential to be a great move for TNA. It’ll add a new dimension of unpredictability to the show. Up to this point, one of the main things Impact has had going against it is that, like Smackdown, people don’t need to watch it because they can simply read the live show results online. Raw on the other hand, is live every week. It’s got that “anything can happen” feel that can be a real thrill at times. Impact will benefit from something like that.
But going live is obviously NOT the solution to all of TNA’s problems. Whether you’re watching a turd on tape or in person, it’s still a turd (or so I’m told, I’ve never taped a turd). And no, I’m not comparing the TNA product to a turd. But to me, that company’s biggest problem is it’s inability to make homegrown stars, and tell stories that don’t come off as cliched or cheesy. Mind you that’s a problem WWE has had for years as well, and has only started to make headway in recently with guys like Sheamus, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. But with TNA the problem is much more obvious, given the prominence of guys like Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff. They’re all stars, but they’re stars who rose to prominence in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. This is 2012, and for all that the lip service Hogan gave the younger wrestlers when he showed up a few years ago, so few of them have really benefitted from his presence. There’s Bobby Roode, who’s got the TNA Heavyweight Title right now, and maybe James Storm and Austin Aries. That’s about it.
So yes, going live is a great thing for TNA. But that company needs so much more if it wants to really thrive.
3. Raw adding a third hour
My main concern with Raw being live every week is that three hours is a lot to ask someone to invest on a weekly basis, especially if you also want them to watch Smackdown and pay per views. Two hours is a nice run time that’s been established for years now, with the occasional three-hour show tossed in there as a nice treat. You do that every week and you risk oversaturating the market. Even as a die hard wrestling fan, I’m not sure I’d be up for three hours of wrestling each and every week. At least not without my DVR.
It should be noted that WCW Monday Nitro tried this exact same move back in 1998, and it did virtually nothing for them. They wound up going back to two hours about two years later. And that was in an era where wrestling was hotter than it’s ever been…
Apparently, WWE is going to test out some kind of interactive format for Raw along with this time change, where fans can help decide matches, stipulations, etc. I’m all for that and anything that makes Raw a more exciting and compelling show. But what else are they going to do to fill all that extra time? Longer matches? Bring more guys in from Smackdown? Have another Diva Search (BLAGHHH!!!)? I’m just not sure what they have planned here.
Don’t call me cynical here, call me apprehensive. This seems like another classic Vince McMahon gamble, and those gambles haven’t necessarily been working out over the past several years. WWE Films, Linda McMahon’s Senate bid…yeah, you get the picture. Let’s just hope they’ve got an ace up their sleeve with this one.
Thoughts From Raw
- Whoa. Somebody tell AJ Lee to give John Laurinaitis and Eve Torres acting lessons. That performance was awesome!
- Great looking Frog Splash by Christian. Nice to see him back. Not sure I would have had him take the Intercontinental Title from Cody Rhodes, but oh well.
- So wait, he’s not Lord Tensai anymore? He’s just Tensai? Why…?
- Alright, so the show wrapped up with Cena backstage watching John Laurinaitis walk off, then he turns and gets a surprise fist in the face from Big Show, knocking him out cold. I have two problems with this scene. Firstly, how exactly did the seven foot, 400 pound giant sneak up on you? Was he wearing quintuple XL hush puppes? Secondly, what was that big metallic thud when Show’s fist hit Cena? Is there a metal plate somewhere that we don’t know about?
Front page image and image 3 from bleacherreport.com. Image 2 from ibtimes.com. Image 4 from wrestleenigma.com. Image 5 from WWE.com.