Wrestling Rumblings #8
By: Jose Marrero of WrestleView.com

It would seem with all the Wrestlemania 25 hype that there is just so much wrestling news being swept sort of under the rug. You know things like the deaths of Andrew Martin and Abismo Negro and even the debut of ROH on HDNET. Of course many of you will email me and tell me you felt those stories received their fair share of coverage and you may very well be right. One story that has not really received the coverage that it probably should have is the recent ratings successes of TNA. Believe it or not for the first quarter of this year TNA Impact’s ratings have been great by their standards even topping previous company high ratings records but that’s not the topic because well that’s something that many of you already know. What you don?t know is why. I am sure many are going to just read this column and dismiss it as TNA is just plain lucky and that there recent ratings success is a fluke. While I don?t expect ratings to spike and I don?t particularly enjoy what I see each and every Thursday I can see the bigger picture and I can try and dissect what I think is helping this promotion out right now. Some of it is their own doing and some of it is purely chance after all everything needs a bit of luck every now and then and TNA is no different. So join me as I evaluate how TNA is improving upon their fortunes?you?re reading ?Wrestling Rumblings?

1. Improved focus on the X-Division Title- This is the title that really got many fans to initially take notice of TNA upon their inception and why wouldn?t it? It arguably has the best athletes if not necessarily the best workers on the roster. Its fast paced and innovative style was something that hadn?t been seen since the early days of the WCW Cruiserweight Division. The X Division was TNA’s calling card but then something happened and in my opinion that something’s name was Kurt Angle. I don?t find it too much of a coincidence that once Kurt signed onto TNA there was a de-emphasis on the X Division and its wrestlers. After all I am sure that the powers that be in TNA wanted to really shine a spotlight on their new acquisition and it would be hard to do that with the undercard outshining him each and every night. So they watered it down a bit and even gimmicked it up for a while and just slowly let it move from being one of the preeminent mid card trophies in wrestling to being sort of a joke title ala the Hardcore Title. While they haven?t done an about face on this fact I can?t argue that the matches and the focus on this division has really improved starting with the X Division Tournament that Alex Shelley won and continuing throughout his reign as X Division champion. I don?t particularly care of Consequences Creed and while I think he is a amazing athlete don?t care for Jay Lethal whether it be as himself or Black Machismo but I can?t deny save for one angle in which Kurt Angle beat them up over suits they have actually looked somewhat credible these past few weeks. I also have to say that Alex Shelley held and defended the title well and there was great focus on the fact that he was a fighting champion different from the other title holders in TNA. Say what you would like about the Suicide character but the man beneath the hood is one of the best pound for pound wrestlers in the world and I have to admit some of the moves that Christopher Daniels has made staples of Suicide’s arsenal are awesome. I don?t know how long this renewed focus will last but one has to believe that this hasn?t exactly hurt TNA as it has tried to branch out to a bigger audience.

2. The increased success of the UFC- Much in the same way that the USA network may get looked at from time to time as the ?Wrestling Channel? due to it having had so many different WWE style shows over the years. Spike TV has become the ?UFC Channel? and while maybe some media pundits would turn their nose at that both networks have been very successful in reaching their main target demographic with USA being the #1 network in basic cable prime time and Spike TV not doing too bad themselves. While I may be a hybrid MMA/Wrestling fan I don?t subscribe to the theory that most people are. I do however believe that if I am surfing for UFC and see TNA and it happens to catch my eye I may continue watching it. I often find myself surfing Spike TV for some replay of UFC Unleashed, Ultimate Fighter, and Fight Night Card who is to say I am the only one. It is more than feasible to say that the increased exposure and success of UFC has benefited TNA in some part.

3. Familiar names in main storylines- This is a hard one for me as I really think TNA should really start working on elevating some guys in their mid card due to the fact that there main eventers have a very short shelf life on them but bear in mind I am a hardcore wrestling fan. I say this because I know what some of these midcarders can do and have seen the talent who occupy the top tier in TNA over and over and over again to the point where it has indeed somewhat got stale for me. With that being said I am not a fan who has taken that 10 year sabbatical from wrestling and I do believe nostalgia to some degree is in with most wrestling fans. To those fans that will say I am off base I point to the recently released Legends of Wrestlemania game. It is no secret as it has been all over the internet but the reason this game was made was in the hopes that older fans that have since abandoned watching wrestling will get on board with wrestling after being introduced to newer talent by way of mixing in the older talent that they long for the days of. Who is to say the same thing isn?t happening in TNA? This also to a lesser degree did happen in WCW as the addition of Hulk Hogan and others helped introduce casual fans to talents such as Rey Misterio, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho. Maybe having Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash and Sting is helping to introduce fans to AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and others. While I can?t say this definitively for every wrestling fan I can say that most casual fans that I know that are aware of TNA are aware that Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, Team 3D and others are there and still don?t know who in the hell AJ Styles is. What is stale and old to us may be in fact new and welcome to some of these stray fans.

4. The release of the TNA Impact video game- While this game didn?t sell well with gamers or wrestling fans it was indeed out there and just it being on a shelf at Gamestop opened people’s eyes to the fact that there is indeed another wrestling promotion out there besides WWE. For years we heard the suits in TNA say that people don?t watch their product because they don?t know it exists this definitely changed that. While many chose not to play the game who is to say seeing Kurt Angle on a video game cover didn?t open people’s eyes who may not follow the internet to the fact that this guy still wrestles and make them hunt out the show he wrestled on. I am not saying this opened the floodgates for TNA because while there ratings have been a bit higher and consistent they haven?t gone overwhelmingly up either and I don?t exactly see any TNA merchandise floating around my neighborhood either but I do believe that some of these fans who are watching TNA and helping give it this ratings boost indeed are newer fans who either are sampling the product or actually getting hooked.

5. The economic recession- Some would say that business does not do well during a recession and well for the most part you would be correct in that statement. However while you would expect ticket sales and PPV buys to be down for any wrestling company TV is relatively easy and affordable. I know many people who have had to downgrade there cable services in this recession to basic cable and while Thursday night may be a big TV night some of the choices out there aren?t for everyone and well outside of wrestling there is no fresh weekly episodic television. I personally fall out of love with shows when I get into them for a while and then am subjected to months of re runs who is to say that someone like me may have got stuck waiting for their favorite TV show to start up again only to discover TNA?

Bear in mind I am not saying that this boost is going to last. It may very well be temporary and before we know it TNA can slip back to under a 1 rating. I am merely trying to explain these last few months as many would find it to be an odd occurrence. You can agree or disagree if you like but you have to consider the statements I am making before you and in the case that you don?t agree ?well let me see you explain it.

That’s just about it for this week. As usual love me or hate me I am here so hit me up and tell me what you like, dislike or just say ?Hi? I look forward to the rapport I have with my readers. You can do that by emailing me at wrestlingrumblings@hotmail.com or you can even go and check out the myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/wrestlingrumbling and well thats it for this week of course next week I will try to do better and until then I am out.