Wrestleview.com’s TNA Impact Wrestling recapper Josh Boutwell sent this in.
During Impact last night, TNA Executive Vice President of TV and Director of Talent Relations “Big” John Gaburick had a Q&A session with Jeremy Borash asking fan questions from Twitter. They quickly talked about Gaburick’s time with the WWE and then his time so far in TNA (10 months) and how his vision of the roster is a group of talented, young stars mixed with veterans that can be a leader for the locker rom.
Q: What about AJ Styles?
A: AJ is without a doubt one of the greatest wrestlers of his generation. He was here for a long time, 12 years I believe, and he was one of the bedrock foundations of TNA. We gave AJ what I thought was an extremely fair offer, and AJ decided to go somewhere else. I wish him nothing but the best. A fantastic guy, wonderful guy to work with and if the timing is right and I have a slot open, the dance card is kind of full right now, but if I have a slot open I would welcome him back with open arms.
Q: What about Sting?
A: Sting was, for me anyway, an honor and a privilege to work with. I had never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to work with Steve, or Sting, and to have that opportunity was personally big in my life. I think we have a wonderful relationship, he’s a Hall of Fame member here at TNA, his contract came to an end and Sting moved on. Sting is always welcome here, this is him home. I would be there at the door with open arms any time. He’s just a fantastic guy.
Q: Your thoughts on the X-Division, its future, and wrestlers like Manik?
A: Manik I’ll get to in a second, the X-Division is interesting. The day of the 6’4″, 285 lb. wrestler being the only one that can main event is over. I think TNA was a part of the spearhead of giving guys like the X-Division wrestlers the opportunity to main event. We’ve kind of blurred the line of what the X-Division is, the bar has been set really high for what an X-Division athlete is. That’s really what they are, incredible athletes. So, we’re always on the lookout, always recruiting looking for the best athletes out there, and if they fit in the X-Division or tag team or main event or Knockout I want them to come work here. It’s a wonderful place to work and a excel whether X-Division, main event, tag team, Knockouts whatever it may be.
Q: Will we see any additions to the Knockouts?
A: Brittany just started with us, we’ll real excited to have her. The Beautiful People are telling their story in a new fashion, it’s very exciting for us to have them back together. Our Knockout division, I was just talking about athletes and you can’t get better athletes or beautiful women than we have in our Knockouts division. No one can work in the ring like our women, no one can perform like our women can perform. We had two of our Knockouts that had babies last year (Madison Rayne & Taryn Terrell) which is very exciting for them, but it kind of takes you out of action for a year. We’ve spent some time and we’re going to spend some time building up this division and make it the envy of the world.
Q: What about Jesse Sorensen?
A: Jesse is a guy that suffered an unfortunate injury, almost a tragic injury in terms of he broke his neck. Very scary, Jesse is a guy that we gave an opportunity in television production to learn another skill set and he was very good at it actually, but he had the wrestling bug and he wants to wrestle. Until my doctors clear Jesse unfortunately I couldn’t or would not put him in any ring. A very talented guy though no doubt.
Q: Will we ever see the six sided ring back on Impact?
A: You will see the six sided ring back in TNA, I can promise you that. Now when that is, is a closely guarded secret. Its part of the fabric of who we are here in TNA and the six sided ring helped make TNA so in the future it will continue to be a part of who we are.
Q: How is the locker room morale?
A: Outstanding. The group of people that we have right now, listen we just came off of a very successful UK tour where I was very privileged to travel with on the busses with our guys as we toured different cities throughout the UK and what these guys pulled off was remarkable, and I don’t think there is another group of guys that could pull off what they did. The attitude they had and the way they approached, the positivity that they had was just amazing. I think the leaders in our locker room have established a place where not only are they leaders but they’re teaching some of these guys. That’s a fun thing to see. In any locker room, whether baseball, basketball, whatever, there’s going to be issues and it’s how you rectify those issues is a testament of how well you’re going to go forward. Our locker room, for me, is just an outstanding place.
Q: What about Jeff Jarrett?
A: Jeff is no longer involved in the day to day operations here in TNA. He is still an owner and he is somebody we charged to go out and recruit and find domestic and international talent for us. Jeff’s a great guy, I loved working with him, and I wish him nothing but the best.
Q: Can you take us through the creative process, who’s involved, how it all works?
A: Well when I was named head of creative I took a step back and wanted to evaluate the show and figure out where we wanted to go in terms of a wrestling and entertainment show. We’re very lucky that we had an executive producer like Eric Bischoff and Jason Hervey that introduced some very innovative style of reality, backstage shooting that I felt was very cool. We’re just kind of scratching the surface with that and we hope to grow and expand with that. In addition I think it as important that we establish some of our characters better. We made a very concerted effort to introduce our characters and not just to throw them in the ring. We created some vignettes, we wanted to tell their back stories so that people could learn to either like them or dislike them so they can invest in these characters. That’s what we are going to continue to push in the future. The attention span of the viewing audience, because there is so much out there that they can watch and there is so many ways they can watch it, it’s important that we stay on the cutting edge and present our product in a new and innovative way. That’s something we take very seriously and that is something we are constantly pushing ourselves to do better on. Hopefully we realize some of those successes in the future.
Q: As the head of creative I’m sure you got ideas from all over, wrestlers, announcers, everybody, how does that work and does the buck stop with you?
A: I’m really, really lucky and blessed to work with two fantastic writers. Dave Lagana is someone I worked with at WWE and he’s a fantastic, incredible talent. He knows the wrestling business inside and out, upside and down, front and backward. We’re really lucky to have him here in TNA. Matt Conway is a guy that I think is one of the most insightful and intuitive guys that I’ve ever worked with, and again we’re just really lucky to have him be a part of this creative process. In the end the buck does stop with me, I make the final decision of what we go with. We have a lot of other people involved with that process besides the writers and myself. We have consultants (let the Vince Russo rumors begin) that help us work on the show. We get input from the wrestlers, as you said the announcers, we like to foster an environment of teamwork. I like to look at my relationship with the writers, our relationship with the locker room, as a partnership. We want to be equal partners because I want people to have a say in the future because I want them to have an investment in their future. Ultimately we’re going to go where I think is best but I want people to have a say in the process. It’s a very collaborative and production environment to be part of .
Q: Tell us the idea behind the “Fist Pumpin’ Pre Show” (at live events) and what it is?
A: It’s really a cool thing, JB, and I encourage anyone that hasn’t seen our live events to please go. It’s a unique environment where we start off with a one hour free “Fist Pumpin Part,” and no I will not be doing any fist pumping right here and I’ll leave that to DJ Z (Zema Ion) and Rockstar Spud who do a fantastic job of hosting it, but it’s very interactive. The fans and the wrestlers get an opportunity to mesh together and really have a party before the event starts. We’ve gotten rave reviews from the people that have bought tickets and gone out and experienced this for free. Just a lot of time, a great family experience and something we are very proud of and something we hope to expand upon as we roll out even more live events in 2014 and beyond.
Q: Talk about the worldwide expansion, the television product overseas.
A: I wish I had an hour to talk about that alone, we’ve obviously invested a lot in our international growth. Right now, in arguably the second most popular television market in the world, we are the most popular wrestling show in the UK. That goes to a lot of people’s hard work to grow our exposure in the UK, India, Japan, Europe. We’re looking to grow and to find partners worldwide. Our product is easy to understand by worldwide audiences. We’re happy to see the world respond in such a positive way. We just started a very successful partnership with Wrestle-1 in Japan where we co-promoted a show that I think was well received by everyone. I would love to continue to do that and find partners in places like Mexico or wherever it may be to give people what they want which is good entertainment.
Q: Here in North America, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a time where the landscape has changed as much as this year. How will that change affect TNA?
A: Well, you have to change and evolve or you die, and you’re right the landscape in the North American market has changed and is changing. It’s our challenge to make sure we change with it. We’ve rolled out some really cool initiatives like “Impact 365” which lets us get inside the lives of our wrestlers and knockouts like never before. You get to see and feel our wrestlers outside the ring. We have a two hour show and the people have demanded to be more involved with the wrestlers, and Impact 365 you can go online and see video to see what these incredible athletes are doing is a great way we feel for our wrestlers to tell their story.
Q: What about Spike TV?
A: Spike in every sense of the word is just a great partner. They’re collaborative in all aspects of our show and they are fantastic to work with. I love being partners with them long into the future and I can’t imagine a better setup than what we have now.
Q: What’s something for us to look forward to in the future?
A: Well in the immediate future we have a 4-Way for the World Heavyweight Championship tonight. We’re live next week which is always fun for us. I think about where this company has been 12 years ago until now, we’re just getting started and that’s a really exciting thing for us. I can’t wait for the coming months and I’m so looking forward to the future. It’s a really exciting time for TNA, and here we go.