Bound for Glory was announced as a joint show with Wrestle-1 on 10/12 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. TNA held a press conference with Dixie Carter and Keiji Muto (called Great Muta by everyone, but translator and Wrestle-1 international booker Jimmy Suzuki told everyone that he was Keiji Muto, not Great Muta, in this situation). The only thing that makes sense out of this is they will probably air the show on tape, because the usual 8 p.m. Eastern time PPV window on a Sunday would have to be taped at 7 a.m. on a Monday at Korakuen Hall, and that’s not happening. Right now the show is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday which is in October, 4:30 a.m. Eastern time on a Sunday morning and they aren’t doing it at that time. Moving to a different start time on PPV would in theory be suicide, but with TNA doing such low numbers as it is, maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as if WWE was still a PPV entity and moved from the traditional time slot (now with WWE being a network entity it really doesn’t matter when they start the show). I’m not sure how tape delay in this day and age would affect things. It saves money on deliverance of the show, but there may be a mentality for viewers to skip the show because it isn’t live. How many people will know the difference is a question, because of the mass TV audience, most won’t know it’s not live, but it’s a very small number that buy PPV. It’s a real test because nobody has presented a major PPV on tape in the U.S. since 1992 (SummerSlam from Wembley Stadium didn’t air live in the U.S., and the buy number was way down which Vince McMahon attributed to not being live and said he would never do a taped major show again, which is why Europe never got another major PPV). This indicates the company is making no money on PPV to take that kind of a risk and they are cutting back to doing a taped show, and can get Wrestle-1 to take care of the production costs so they’ll just have to pay trans to get their talent there. The Sumo Hall show in March that is the One Night Only PPV that airs on 7/4, saw Wrestle-1 produce the show since they were doing it for Japanese cable TV anyway, and TNA got the rights to the tape for its own PPV. In exchange, TNA paid for the transportation and salaries of the foreigners on that show. They both indicated the show would be a combination of TNA talent and Wrestle-1 talent. What we do know is the card has not been decided, that Wrestle-1 wants its top four stars on the show and the number of Japanese on the show could be considerably more. The idea is to do both pure TNA feud matches off television, as well as some TNA vs. Wrestle-1 themed matches, where they’d have to negotiate wins and losses because neither side wants to bury the other, so they’ll almost surely split wins. Unless they are going to eliminate the production stage and ramp, they aren’t getting more than 1,500 people in that place. It’s notable that New Japan also has Korakuen Hall booked for an iPPV show on 10/12 as well, so one will run at Noon and the other at 6:30 p.m. A key reason TNA is doing this show is that they want to project an international image for the company, giving the perception they are part of the Japanese scene.
What makes a lot of this interesting is that the negotiations appear to be with Gaburick and Suzuki, but Suzuki’s contract with Wrestle-1 expires at the end of July, even though the sides are in talks of plans well into 2015.
There were reports that Dixie Carter was injured from the power bomb through a table by Bully Ray at the 6/26 tapings. That could be a work since it was the blow-off for the Dixie Carter character for a while on television, but she isn’t trained, she’s 49 years old and has never taken a bump. I believe the legit injuries were a fractured back. I saw the clip and Bully protected her as much as possible, to the point it looked more like he took most of the impact. There have been different reports regarding her having been banged up, but exactly what her injuries are in real life and storyline, people don’t seem to be sure, but she isn’t trained to take bumps like that and it was probably a one-time thing.
The company is expected to make a major announcement on 7/12 in London at the London Film & Comic Con regarding their U.K. business, which may be the addition of a new U.K. only television show.
When Bully Ray was on the Jim Ross podcast and asked what TNA would be as a product if he was in charge, he said it would be a combination of 1980s Jim Crockett Promotions and 1990s All Japan Pro Wrestling. As much as I enjoyed 1990s All Japan Pro Wrestling, that wouldn’t work on U.S. television today. Plus, to make it work, you have to have the greatest wrestlers in the world to pull it off, and with the benefit of hindsight, the physical damage of that style is something that should be learned from as a limit you can’t consistently go to.
There were several people from Spike at the 6/26 taping in New York and TNA put on a really hot show, one of its best tapings in a while. The fact they were there I would take as a positive sign.
The previous show from Japan, the 3/2 card from Sumo Hall, will be airing as a taped PPV on 7/4. The lineup has Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian vs. Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto, Gail Kim vs. Madison Rayne, Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Abyss, Masakatsu Funaki vs. Bobby Roode, Keiji Muto & Taiyo Kea & Rob Terry (without his mask) vs. Samoa Joe & Masayuki Kono & Rene Dupree, The Bro Mans regaining the tag titles from The Wolves in a three-way that also included Kaz Hayashi & Shuji Kondo (which tells viewers it’s four months old since this title change was acknowledged on TV in early March), Seiya Sanada winning the X title from Austin Aires (also telling viewers that) and Magnus vs. Kai for the TNA title (which also tells viewers that).
Given that nothing has been mentioned and it would have started at this weeks’ television, it appears they aren’t doing the Bound for Glory series this year to determine who gets the TNA title shot. Last year’s series where they essentially ran out of time long before everyone worked with everyone with the way it was set up, ended up a complete fiasco.
Lots of newcomers were brought back at TV this week. Besides the previously announced Tommy Dreamer, Matt Hardy, Low Ki, Homicide, Great Muta, Brian Cage and Rhino, they also used Gene Snisky (Snitsky), Rycklon Stephens (Ezekiel Jackson, but I doubt they can use that name so not sure what name they are going to use for him), King Mo, Al Snow with Head and Devon. The first taping built up a new Dixie Carter-led heel faction of Ethan Carter III, Rockstar Spud, Mo, Snisky and Stephens. I’m surprised to see Mo back since he’s still active in Bellator and everyone but Mo tells me that you can’t do both pro wrestling and MMA at the same time given the demands both require these days. But Mo was more of a bodyguard and didn’t work any matches, and the issue with pro wrestling was more the nightly pounding. I know that the ECW reunions are good for an easy pop, and this worked live. They really loaded up on the show and to try and make this a hot product for the New York market and even with the weak attendance the first night, they did sell out the second and third nights and the TV was far better than what they’ve been doing. Stephens isn’t that old but he’s still got the WWE washout feel, but if they have an idea for him, that’s one thing. But Snisky is 44 years old, hasn’t worked much in years, and was never good when he did work. It did appear they were only in for two days because they were fired in storyline by Dixie Carter after the second night of tapings and didn’t work the third night, and are not figured into anything going forward. Dreamer also isn’t scheduled as talent for the next tapings but he will be back behind the scenes. Homicide, Devon and Low Ki are scheduled to be back for the next tapings.
The positive on the tapings, besides the great crowd reactions, is that even though it was a lot of ECW recreations, which have been done to death over the last 15 years and never have any legs, and lots of gimmick matches, it is no longer WWE-lite. As noted before, “being cool in New York” is a lot bigger deal than in any other city. Still, they lose their asses financially on these shows. Whether this leads to packing houses for the August tapings for the positive word-of-mouth, better quality of matches and stronger week-to-week booking, is of minor concern. If these tapings helped get them a Spike renewal, than they were worth it. If not, well, I don’t want to think about that because it would be terrible for the industry. If Jeff Jarrett had made key announcements, or AAA got its television on a station that had an audience and on the basic tier, I could say there are others out there who can pick up the pieces. But two hours of prime time on Spike is the strongest outlet, by far, that any No. 2 group looks to be getting.
Great Muta was originally just scheduled to make an appearance at the tapings and shoot the angle with Seiya Sanada. Because his knees are so shot, he wrestles very limited dates and only on bigger shows. But he decided to do a quick match with Robbie E, partially because, as crazy as this sounds, in his entire career, he’s never wrestled in New York City.
The deal with Sanada is that he was sent to TNA and Wrestle-1 is paying him his regular salary, so TNA gets him for free. The idea is that it will help make him a bigger star in Japan because he’s won a title with a major group in the U.S. The idea is he can be pushed in Japan like he got over big in the U.S., since Muto sees him as the future top guy in his company. There is talk about a joint contract going forward, with the idea he’d still be under contract to Wrestle-1, but would have a TNA deal, and would continue for the time being to work primarily for TNA and go back for Japan big shows. If this is the case, Sanada would politically have to be protected to a degree in booking.
The announcers weren’t at the tapings. Taz was there the first night to do a promo welcoming people. Mike Tenay wasn’t brought in as all the voiceovers were being done in studio in Nashville due the delay between the taping date and air date. In the past, you’d bring the announcers to shoot some shots in the arena even if you voice over later, but as a cost savings measure, TNA hasn’t done that in a long time.
After Austin Aries gave up the X title to get a shot at Bobby Lashley’s TNA title, which he lost at the Destination X taping, which airs on 7/31, they also did a series of three-ways for the vacant title which ended up with Low Ki, Samoa Joe (they’ve clearly dropped the 225 pound weight limit, although that was pretty much forgotten a long time ago when they made RVD champion) and Sanada, with Joe winning the title at the 6/27 tapings.
The first night of the tapings on 6/25 drew 650 fans, which wasn’t full but won’t look bad on TV because they were in a small place. It’s one thing to draw 225 fans without any advertising in Bowie, MD, but 650 fans for a heavily pushed taping with tons of local media and tons of advertising in downtown Manhattan is so sad. They were going to lose a lot of money even with a sellout by taping at the Manhattan Center, but the idea they couldn’t sell a small building like that the first night they ran in, Wednesday or not, is scary. They did get good reactions from those there, and did sellout 1,000+ and turned people away the next two nights. The crowd was hot the first night, but also unruly in spots and a lot of the crowd chants may have to be edited or be embarrassing, like all the Punk chants, ROH chants, swearing chants and such. The second night crowd was even hotter and was a perfect crowd to perform for. The 6/26 show was said to be one of the best TV tapings the company ever did by those who have been there for a lot of them, which taped matches for the end of the 7/24 TV show and all of the 7/31 Destination X TV show, which was the Lashley vs. Aries title match, said to be good, and three three-ways to build to a three-way that would air on a following show for the vacant X belt. The idea in New York was to concentrate on the in-ring and do less talking, and it worked. The thing is, TNA has always had the in-ring wrestling talent, but when most of the matches were limited to 4:00 for all the talking segments, you wouldn’t know it. And again, wrestling on TV is not again wrestling time vs. talking time, and never has been. It’s about star making time and good stories. The third night was described as mostly good, but there were pockets of fans who did chants that they’ll likely have to edit out in post-production and the crowd turned on a Gunner vs. Ken Anderson match.
Bully Ray was on Opie & Anthony, when they asked if Vince called would he go back instantly and he basically said he would in a heartbeat. I guess he didn’t lie, but on a show when you’re booked by TNA to promote TNA, and WWE fired you nine years ago and in that entire time, never wanted you back while TNA has given you the run of the place, you’d think he’d at least temper it a little. Even when Kurt Angle was trying to get WWE to take him back he put over that he loved both companies and never said he’d go back in a heartbeat. This was the interview where he claimed he had a two month relationship with Brooke Hogan. He said Hulk came to him and he told Hulk how he’d never disrespect his daughter, and Hulk then said that wasn’t what he was talking to him about, that he was warning him that what Brooke wants, she always gets. He claimed he now worked 150 days a year in TNA and another 50 days a year in Japan (?). He joked he could have been the heir to the Hogan fortune (which really isn’t that much of a fortune since the divorce), but went back to his ex.
Lance Storm wrote an article on six-sides vs. four-sides which was by far the best thing I’ve read on the subject. Based on talking to several people, most wrestlers favored four-sides in the company but as noted, Austin Aries and I think Ken Anderson were the only ones who tried to push people to vote for it, although others went to management asking to keep the six sides, but once they announced they were putting it to a fan vote, they were kind of locked into it because the only people who would vote would be the ones who wanted it changed. There were some who did favor the six sides. Storm noted six-sided ring is harder, and ultimately that means wrestlers will have the option of two things, which is tone down matches or damage their bodies worse, which will lead to a higher injury rate, and pain killer usage. That alone should end the debate. He also noted the six-sided ring doesn’t shoot as well on television, plus it doesn’t shoot running the ropes as well because everything has to be at an angle to the cameras. It’s also worse when it comes to both shooting dives because the post is closer to the entrance ramp, which has no barricades, and also dives would be done in corners with barricades which gives less room to maneuver and increases the injury risk.
When MVP was on Jim Ross’ podcast this past week, talking about Chris Benoit, who was something of a mentor to him in his early WWE days, he noted that Benoit was doing a lot of Ecstasy in the WCW days. I had thought that he may have meant liquid Ecstasy AKA GHB, which a lot of guys used then for both bodybuilding purposes and recreational drug purposes, with the idea it burned body fat while you slept and also gave you a deep sleep (some people had very significant problems from side effects of using it) which was a problem with the work and the schedule. While MVP was not in WCW during that period, he was very close with Benoit during their WWE days. Based on checking, Benoit was actually doing both, as both were part of the WCW drug scene during that period.
The Co-Ed College Arm Wrestling championships show that Jessie Godderz co-hosted that was taped a long time ago, airs on 7/6 at 1 p.m. on ESPN 2.
James Long, who wrestles as Paradyse in OVW and has had tryouts before, was working as a producer at this past weeks tapings.