TNA Observer news

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    WhoBetta

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    Re: TNA Observer news

    Post by WhoBetta on Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:30 am

    lol thanks as always!


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    SBR

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    Re: TNA Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:24 pm

    7/21

    Even though everyone denied it, particularly Vince Russo to everyone who asked him for months, Russo is still working for TNA and has been for a long time, since months before it came out here. Russo accidentally CC’d Mike Johnson of the PWInsider web site into an e-mail with instructions to Mike Tenay and Taz, who were in Nashville this week doing a couple of weeks of voice overs of the New York shows, with instructions on what do to and how to handle certain situations. At first Russo went on Twitter in response saying, “Wow–just amazing to see that anybody will print anything as TRUTH without checking into it. Nice to see the SWERVE still works!!!” He then wrote, “Since an unreliable website has brought me so much free promotion–feel free to check out my web site.” Then he wrote to Johnson, “Would you thank Dave (Scherer, Johnson’s partner on the web site) for me for all the free promotion. If I knew it was going to be this easy, would have done long time ago!” Johnson wrote that the e-mail was legit, he checked into it and it was not an attempted swerve by Russo. Johnson wrote that he could publish the e-mail, and Russo was the one lying about the story. When Russo claimed it was a swerve on Johnson, he wrote, “Swerve? He’s not that creative. More like trying to spin things. The countdown begins Vince. It’s all on you now.” Russo eventually apologized to Johnson and wrote: “Recently, I accidentally sent an e-mail to a third party that was not meant for their eyes. The e-mail concerned my current involvement in TNA Wrestling. TNA rendered my services as a consultant to work with their announcing team of Mike Tenay and Taz. The condition from their side was that I kept it confidential between the two parties. As their employee, it was up to me to honor their wishes, so that’s what I intended to do. My integrity means everything to me, so I just hope you can understand and forgive.” Russo had been involved with creative long before he was working with the announce team. Months ago, their Japanese partners were upset and asked about Russo being involved and were at first never given a straight answer. However, John Gaburick later admitted to Keiji Muto that Russo was working there, but assured him that Russo was working underneath him, didn’t have final say, and that he would be the one deciding on how the Japanese were portrayed and that what happened with Tetsuya Naito, Yujiro Takahashi and Kazuchika Okada would not happen with the Wrestle-1 talent. Wrestle-1 has been happy with how Seiya Sanada has been used.

    To me, it’s just amazing that Russo could accidentally send Mike Johnson the e-mail with instructions to the announcers.

    TNA champion Bobby Lashley will fight Josh Burns (8-7) on the 9/5 Bellator show at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. That’s on Bellator’s show that goes head-to-head with a live UFC show with a loaded card ten minutes away and head-to-head on FS1. In one of Scott Coker’s first big moves, he’s bringing in Lashley, who he had used in Strikeforce, as a pro wrestling attraction. Burns is a 244-pound heavyweight who is 0-4 in Bellator, losing to Raphael Butler, Rich Hale, Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos, all by stoppage, and the Prindle fight, stopped after the second round, is the only fight where Burns lasted 3:00. Lashley, who will be 38 come fight time, is 10-2 as an MMA fighter, was a strong wrestler who always dominated the first round, but with all his muscles, had a real problem with stamina, particularly if a fight went to a third round. Still, normal old school pro wrestling protocol would be to not risk a world champion in a shoot, so Lashley would lose the title just in case because it looks bad for a promotion for its champion to get his ass kicked in a nationally televised fight. Today, that may not matter since the TNA title doesn’t mean much, and it’s not like John Gaburick would have ever known about a similar situation in wrestling like the guys in Pancrase did with Ken Shamrock as champion and the Minoru Suzuki match where Shamrock dropped his title since he was going into a UFC fight that they couldn’t guarantee the outcome of. Lashley, who last fought in Novemer and went five rounds in winning a decision against Tony Nelson to win the XFN heavyweight title, is clearly being given an opponent he should beat. But in MMA nothing is guaranteed.

    Kurt Angle was on Jim Ross’ podcast this past week and said that his contract expires on 9/21 and that TNA offered him a new deal but he hasn’t signed it. He said that he believes the next wrestling contract he signs will be his last and he wants to keep his options open. That’s all but outright saying he’s hoping to go to WWE to finish his career. The last time Angle’s contract was due, WWE wasn’t interested. There’s question whether Angle could pass a WWE physical, but even if he could, Vince McMahon in the past has been extremely negative about bringing Angle back, feeling the risk was too high if something had happened to an Olympic gold medalist while under their watch. Dana White said that Angle was asked to do The Ultimate Fighter season that Kimbo, Roy Nelson, Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione were on, and that’s five years ago, and White said that Angle failed the physical. Angle claimed that wasn’t the case, and he didn’t do the season because he was called late and didn’t have time to get into fighter shape. Ultimately, for Angle to get an offer, while that would usually be a Paul Levesque decision, in this case it’s going to be a 100 percent a Vince decision. There are people in TNA who have speculated from day one that if Jeff Jarrett has significant money behind him, that Angle would be his pick as his company’s flagship star. Even though there was nuclear heat between the two in the past, that is no longer the case, and Jarrett has told people many times over the years that he considers Angle the best worker he has ever been in the ring with, and considering the variety and number of people that entails, that speaks volumes about his thoughts on him as a performer.

    Angle wrote on Twitter: “Rumors are the root of evil. The truth will endure. Here is the truth! I’m excited to say I’m coming up on my one year anniversary of being clean and sober. I’m very humbled. God has truly blessed me. It’s been a difficult but exciting road to living alcohol/drug free. Then some heartless individuals want to create rumors of me `passed out’ on a plane. Wow, I guess you can’t take a nap on a plane when you’re a recovering addict. But it only makes me want to stay clean even more!!!” There was a flight Angle was on recently that had several WWE writers on, going to a production meeting, and they saw Angle on the flight and they passed the word that he had serious issues. There was also a web site story on it, so that’s what Angle was reacting to. Since Angle is clearly trying to get back to WWE, this did him no favors.

    Talent has been told to expect an announcement regarding television at the 8/3 to 8/5 tapings in New York.

    The big TNA television announcement this past week was the second season of British Boot Camp which will air in the U.K. on Challenge TV. It will be more extensive than the first season, where the winner, Rockstar Spud, got a TNA contract and is now all over television. The idea they are pushing is that the eventual winner gets a full-time roster contract. Those who finish second through fourth will wrestle on the TNA tour in the U.K. in early 2015. The show, which will be produced by Jeremy Borash, will start filming in August with 12 competitors, who can be wrestlers, referees or announcers. They will have tryouts in Glasgow, Manchester and London. They’ll be whittled down to six wrestlers, who will be brought to the U.S. in September. Samoa Joe, Gail Kim and Al Snow will be the judges. The finalists will be at the January/February U.K. tour and a winner, who gets a TNA contract, will be picked then.

    Eddie Edwards & Richards will be going to Wrestle-1 from 8/23 to 8/31 to help build them up for Bound for Glory.

    Yoshihiro Tajiri, who was a star in ECW and WWE, will be at the August New York tapings. He currently works for Wrestle-1.


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    Re: TNA Observer news

    Post by SBR on Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:25 pm

    8/4

    Daisy Marx, the company’s Senior Director of Marketing, gave her notice last week.

    Brooke Adams (Tessmacher) and Samuel Shaw were both signed to new deals. Adams hasn’t even been used of late, but a lot of these new deals are no-risk for the company since they are pay based on dates worked, so if you don’t book the person, there’s minimal cost to signing them.

    The 8/16 British Boot Camp cuts live show was announced for York Hall in London.

    Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian were critical of the promotion in an RF Video interview, excerpts of which were released this past week. Daniels said, in hindsight, he thought it was mind-boggling that TNA got rid of them. Well, it’s more an economic issue than pure stupidity. He said he couldn’t understand why anyone thought it was a good business decision. He noted the company made the call to go with the Bro Mans ahead of them, and he praised the Bro Mans, and said Jessie Godderz has worked his ass off and improved greatly, but said that he and Kazarian were more entertaining and better wrestlers. When asked about checks coming late, Daniels said that last year in December they were three weeks behind and it ruined his holidays, noting he was down to a single digit in his savings account before the check came on 12/23. Regarding the Claire Lynch angle, which they noted was terrible and said the woman who played the role had no idea what she was doing, thought she wasn’t that pretty and joked that originally Claire Lynch was going to be Dixie’s niece, and felt the woman got picked because they didn’t want to hire an actress better looking than Dixie. He said the angle was originally scheduled to end with a paternity test where it would be revealed that A.J. was not the father. When Daniels was asked about who he’d want booking TNA, he gave the names Scott D’Amore (who, with the benefit of hindsight, was the best booker TNA ever had, because unlike most of the others, he understood who would work the most optimum with who, something neither Eric Bischoff nor Vince Russo had any clue about, so the PPVs under D’Amore were often can’t miss while they went downhill after he was out of power), Konnan, Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Bully Ray, Kevin Nash and Jeff Jarrett. He made it clear for any of those names that if they booked, they shouldn’t be active performers. I can’t say anything about Raven because I’ve never seen him in action when he had power. As for Dreamer, he can put together an entertaining house show with a good mixture of divergent talent, but the only booking I’ve ever seen from him in charge of a TV promotion was OVW when Jim Cornette was suspended, and it was bad. Bully Ray is clearly a smart guy, but I’ve never seen him in charge either. Nash was one of the worst bookers I ever saw, but that was also 1999 and people hopefully get smarter in 15 years, plus he was an active performer and it was clear when he booked it was to get he and his friends over and he didn’t care about anything else. If you notice, every name suggested was a former wrestler, and he said that they need guys with a wrestling mentality and that TNA right now doesn’t have anyone like that, because the guys in creative (John Gaburick, David Lagana, Vince Russo and Matt Conway) all had never been wrestlers.

    The reports from the taping were that the 7/31 Destination X TV show is probably the best show in months if not longer. The Wolves vs. Hardys tag title match was said to be the best match on TNA in a long time, and had a hot crowd. Bobby Lashley vs. Austin Aries for the TNA title was good. It also had a strong Low Ki vs. Manik vs. DJ Zema Ion match in the X Division tournament, and a Seiya Sanada vs. Brian Cage vs. Crazzy Steve match that was okay, as well a Samoa Joe vs. Tigre Uno vs. Homicide three-way.


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    Re: TNA Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:15 pm

    8/11

    There was what was described to me as a panic on 8/6, the afternoon before the second night of tapings. It was a combination of the Observer web site report and all the other web sites reporting on the possibility of Smackdown moving to Thursday and what it means for TNA. This was combined with people expecting some kind of an announcement regarding the future or the TV, since many had been hinted to that big news would be given at the tapings, and there was no announcement made the first night, nor was anything said to anyone about any kind of a deal. It was incumbent that something be said to talent this week because they were told all along that there would be good news at the taping. They’ve all heard the story of Spike not renewing, and all were told it was a lie by management. Many are talking like they believe management, but others are more skeptical. But unless something is addressed in the next few days, the ones who believed management and had been told New York is when the good news would be announced, many are going be shocked into what may be reality. They didn’t even have a meeting with the wrestlers, nor was anyone told at press time that any kind of meeting would happen on 8/7, the final day of the tapings. There wasn’t even the minimal announcement that no matter what happens, we’ll be continuing to tape television for international or the company will keep going, which, whether true or not, was something I was told needed to have been said to avoid the fear a lot of the roster had about their futures. But with nothing being said, and the knowledge that a Smackdown move to Thursday would be disastrous for ratings and hurt things with Spike if there was any chance of a new deal. Spike likely won’t move Impact to Friday’s due to Bellator, although Wednesday possibly could be done. But who knows if Spike has any interest going forward as those at Spike have said there is nothing new since our reports from last week. But if there are any negotiations with new stations, if the Smackdown move happens, it hurts Impact badly when it comes to negotiations with new stations.

    Vince Russo, 53, was fired by John Gaburick on 7/30, although Russo at first categorized it like he was asked to take a sabbatical and he decided to quit. Later, he categorized it as being fired and indicated he believed he would never be working in a creative capacity in wrestling again, although he has said that many times in the past. Why he was hired in the first place remains a major mystery. Why they waited to fire him, knowing it would be an issue in tenuous negotiations with Spike, is another question. The reason everyone freaked out over the e-mail Russo accidentally sent to Mike Johnson, which linked him to writing the show, was because TNA was scared to death how Spike, in the middle of negotiations, would take it. I suppose you could argue the damage was done once the e-mail was out and firing him at that point wouldn’t have made a difference, and quite frankly, at that point, people would have been just as likely to not believe it. But still, not pulling the trigger while negotiations were still going on was shocking if you think about it. Russo this past week, on his web site, where he’s opened up somewhat on his role and doing a paid subscription service where he slowly reveals all, said that he was first hired back on October 24, 2013, by Gaburick, to critique the creative team of David Lagana and Matt Conway. He said that his role expanded. This confirms our reports that he was working there months before anyone had a clue. Gaburick expanded his role to dealing with and directly contributing to creative early this year. His expanded role in creative likely started as soon as you could see the Russo fingerprints with the pole matches, the Sabin-Velvet Sky feud and things like that. His claim, and this is accurate, is that he was originally hired just to critique shows. Eventually, Gaburick asked him to start consulting with Lagana and Conway on the scripts. Eventually, Russo was, in fact, at creative meetings with the two, even though this was still all kept from the talent and they would never let him attend the shows and work directly with the talent for fear of it getting out. I knew the first two parts but didn’t know they actually brought him to meetings. If that’s the case, then TNA was far, far dumber than I thought because, really, if nobody sees him and only a few people know about it, you can think you can keep a secret from Spike and his being caught by sending Mike Johnson an e-mail was something nobody could have ever predicted. If he’s physically around people in the company or at meetings, that’s a very different issue, although to their credit, until the e-mail, nobody had said he was physically around. He said that the job of helping produce and dealing with the announcers only started one month ago. He said that when Gaburick made the public statement that he was hired as a consultant to produce the announcers that it was a lie, and that he was hired as a creative consultant by Gaburick eight months earlier. Dear God, Gaburick never made a public statement. Gaburick, at the time Russo was on Twitter claiming he swerved Johnson, forced Russo to make a public statement, which Russo made on his own web site, saying he was hired to give advice to the announcers. The reason being that it was public knowledge he had from the e-mail to Johnson, and there was nothing in the e-mail that proved anything else, so they didn’t have to admit to it. The statement was crafted so, with Spike, they could at least issue a deniability that Russo had anything to do with creative. When it came out, the company strategy for the public was to admit to only what they had to admit and deny everything else. But Russo evidently didn’t remember or just felt he could swerve people on a recent story by claiming it was TNA that issued a public statement and not him. Russo also claimed that Gaburick told him some time back that he had told Scott Fishman (Spike’s liaison with TNA) that Russo was back working there and it was not a secret from Spike. That contradicts the reason things happened the way they did when the e-mail was out, Spike a week later saying they weren’t renewing the deal and multiple sources who knew of the meetings both with Spike and internally at TNA who pointed to being lied to about Russo as a key reason or the straw that broke the camel’s back. The key reason was not Russo, and is simply business, that Spike either didn’t want to work with TNA any longer, or simply felt that the price they had been paying for the show wasn’t cost effective with its value to the station and was looking to get it cut down. However, Russo’s time line of when he was hired and how his role expanded has not been contradicted by anyone, and based on how things all went down, feels accurate. Russo acknowledged being let go first on twitter, writing, “Officially done with TNA. Today they `suggested’ a break. I declined. Finality was better for me.” From those close to the situation, he was fired and anything else was just trying to put spin on it. Russo said that doing Jim Ross’ podcast had something to do with his being fired by TNA. Well, given that he taped the podcast on 7/29 and he was fired on 7/30, it likely had more than something to do with it, even though the podcast hasn’t played and I don’t think anyone in TNA knows what was said. I’m not sure why that would be the case. Dixie Carter has been mad at things Ross has said regarding the company’s creative and such. However, Kurt Angle did Ross’ show just a few weeks ago. We never heard anything about Angle being in hot water for it. That show couldn’t have thrilled Carter since Angle openly said he turned down their offer for a new deal with his contract expiring in late September and was looking elsewhere. A lot of people believed at first that the firing was a work, given how much deception has been involved with this entire situation. I can .tell you with certainty that it wasn’t. But for people who don’t believe it, there is nothing in how TNA has operated with this story that would make you want to believe anything and I was skeptical as well when I first heard it.

    Russo wrote about the situation with Spike and theorized Spike saying they weren’t renewing was a negotiations ploy to get the deal at a lower price, and also theorized that perhaps Spike would want to start its own wrestling company (exactly things we wrote about last week), but brought up Eric Bischoff heading that company. Bischoff was TNA’s liaison with Spike for a couple of years when it came to the TV show, but that hasn’t been the case for some time. It’s all theoretical at this point. Bischoff was well thought of by Spike because he was viewed as the architect of the WCW boom from 1996-98 and creator of Nitro, which was a big television hit at one point. But Bischoff’s TNA run, being in charge of the creative direction, was a huge disappointment. Times and the business have changed in the last decade plus. Additionally, Bischoff had a ton of people from Hogan to Kevin Sullivan to Zane Bresloff and many others who were feeding him ideas. While wrestling’s popularity dropped bad in 1992, it had only been a few years and the country was filled with wrestling fans from the 80s boom that weren’t far gone and could be brought back. Plus, there was an incredible amount of big name talent as virtually every 80s star was still around, and there were new stars being created all over the world with revolutionary styles that U.S. fans had never seen. Plus, the Nitro concept, going from the squash/interview format to a full-fledged entertainment show, was new, as even Raw and Antonio Pena’s AAA tapings were only scratching the surface at the potential. Bischoff had a Hogan in his early to mid 40s who was a gigantic star to build around and understood his character to get over, but now he was late 50s and couldn’t wrestle anymore and building around him as the big star as commissioner at that age no longer worked past the nostalgia phase. The idea for the big angle was Hogan vs. Sting, which worked great in its day, but that day was 15 years earlier. Bresloff passed away years ago, Sullivan is out of the picture and has been out of the business for more than a dozen years and things have changed incredibly over that period. Hogan’s ideas to make him the star of the promotion, whether angles with his daughter or Sting, were no longer the way to go. Now, Bischoff no longer even has Hogan. And again, the idea of a Bischoff-led wrestling company on Spike is purely speculation at this point, but if you are looking from a TNA standpoint, I could see where you’d come up with that as a possible idea, given Spike did purchase Bellator and there are very viable reasons they’d want to run a wrestling franchise.

    Russo claimed Spike never correctly promoted TNA. When TNA said it wasn’t renewing the contract, several reports were that Dixie Carter said the same thing internally, blaming them for not promoting the product the way they promote Bellator (which they own). Russo also claimed that there is a 75% chance TNA signs a new deal with Spike at a reduced rate, a 50% chance TNA ends up on a new station and a 50% chance Spike starts up their own promotion. He then said that was all speculation. In doing the math on that, if you remember those hilarious Scott Steiner interviews that Russo was the one scripting, where he’d do these percentages that made no sense, well, at the time, I thought it was Russo’s great sense of humor with the Steiner character, but given his percentages here, maybe the humor was unintentional.

    Another thing that has to be brought up, which shows TNA knew they were in trouble in negotiations, is that back in April, they hired UTA to handle their television negotiations. UTA’s deal in situations like this is working as an agent, which means they get a 15 percent cut. So unless they were able to negotiate a 15 percent raise from Spike, or a similar increase from another station, TNA would be coming out worse for wear.

    Rampage Jackson isn’t happy with TNA. He was interviewed on The Fight Nerd show, and said that even though he is still listed on their roster page, he will never go back. He said when he showed up there was a ton of momentum, and he was told they were going to do a long build to lead to a singles match with Kurt Angle. The second week in, they were already shaking hands. My God, this guy who was in the wrestling business for all of a month understood how stupid that was. He said they dropped the ball and killed all the momentum. When asked about Spike dropping TNA, he said that he had already known the handwriting was on the wall. He said that both Gaburick and Dixie Carter had been calling him to return, but he didn’t buy into what they were saying. In reality, while TNA did totally botch the Rampage vs. Kurt Angle build from the week after the staredown, it’s not like there was a lot they could do with an untrained Rampage who decided he wasn’t going to do any training for pro wrestling because he didn’t want to beat up his body doing it while he was still an active fighter. In late April or early May, I was contacted about something to do with Rampage returning, so that would be the time frame of when they wanted him back, maybe right after the PPV match with King Mo on 5/17. But it all fell through. Jackson said that a lot of cool people were in TNA, mentioning Chavo Guerrero Jr. (who hasn’t been with the company in a long time; Rampage and Guerrero live near each other in Orange County and are enough social friends that they’ve talked about going into business together) and Bully Ray. He said that he still wants to do pro wrestling after his fighting career is over, and that he’s training some with Guerrero Jr.

    TNA put out a release this past week to announce the signing of Chris Melendez, a former Army Sergeant who was awarded a purple heart due to losing his left leg in combat in Afghanistan. Melendez had only 23 days left in Afghanistan when an IED led to him suffering life threatening injuries. But he was walking with a prosthetic leg in 40 days, and years later, signed up for the Team 3-D Academy of pro wrestling. TNA announced he would debut on 8/5 in New York. TNA brought him to New York early to do local media for its shows this week. Given his background, he was able to get on many of the high profile local television early morning talk and news shows. Given the timing, obviously the ability to garner pub is good since none of the three shows had sold out, even coming off the strong tapings the last time in the market. The news came across super positive for TNA at a time where they need to create a positive public perception since they are in negotiations with the company’s future very much at stake.

    Jeff Hardy, when asked about returning to WWE, noted that when he watches Raw and sees the crowds, he misses it and said that he started there and he’d like to end his career there. As a general rule, WWE doesn’t like to hire people with felony drug convictions on their record, not to mention two strikes and a long history of problems, but he’s Jeff Hardy, and he was once the most popular wrestler in the company, so the rules are different with him.

    DJ Zema Ion signed a contract extension.

    There was a video on Impact this week for a mystery debut, which is apparently for Jessicka Havok, an indie wrestler who worked on the most recent Knockouts Knockdown PPV show that has yet to air. Havok is the girlfriend of Sam Johnston (Solomon Crowe) in WWE.


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    JustSkiff

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    Re: TNA Observer news

    Post by JustSkiff on Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:00 pm

    Havok could be fun watching in TNA.
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    Re: TNA Observer news

    Post by dragondragon on Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:59 pm

    They've been together awhile.

    But she'd be great as like a hybrid moxley/kong type thing.

    If an agent couldn't find a deal for TNA, that's awful


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    Re: TNA Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:51 pm

    8/25

    Spike TV and TNA announced this week a move of Impact from Thursday to Wednesday night at 9 p.m. Eastern, starting with the 8/20 show.

    The switch has to be considered a good sign for a company that is holding out any hope for good news, given that its contract with Spike expires at the end of September. The argument would seem to be: Why would they make a change with barely a month left in the contract if they aren’t going to be keeping the programming?

    While TV shows do change days and times while on the way down and on the verge of a cancellation, it’s usually to a worse time slot. In theory, given how the lay of the land looks in the fall season, with CBS carrying NFL football in the fall on Thursday, and the strong possibility of Syfy moving Smackdown to Thursday, TNA may struggle with the move at first, but in the long run, it should be the better for it.

    The move comes at a time when ratings, at least until this past week, were the best they’ve been on a consistent basis in more than a year, a turnaround from record lows earlier this year. The shows have been more wrestling-heavy shows, taped in New York farther in advance than ever before, showing the taped vs. live aspect means little to the TNA fan base. There has been a lot of ECW nostalgia. The shows have featured both dream matches from the past, like the Team 3-D vs. Hardys, reprising a famous WWE program, good working X division matches, strong tag title matches with The Wolves, and frequent TNA title matches with Bobby Lashley put over strong as champion. It was also building a several months storyline, which just paid off, of Bully Ray putting Dixie Carter through a table.

    On 8/17, at a house show in Hagerstown, MD, Bully Ray (Mark LoMonaco, 43), told the locker room at this show that this may be goodbye. He noted that his contract expired before the next TNA house show (9/5) and didn’t think a new deal would be signed. He said he wanted to say his goodbyes in case it is his last show. It is believed talks between the sides are continuing. Those within TNA are saying that the company right now is proceeding with the idea that he’s finished as of now, although one key person said that they are not aware that he’s done.

    This was a big surprise because in the case of virtually every major player who wasn’t renewed (Sting, Chris Sabin, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Hulk Hogan, A.J. Styles), their respective contract stus was well kown months ahead of time. Literally nobody, including people who are thought to be close to him, had any clue his contract was up, and obviously from him tied into television angles, nothing was done to close things out like was done with all the others. In addition, Bully Ray is not just a wrestler, but also is an agent, who helps talent lay out their matches. He is generally considered the company’s best agent. Unlike Kurt Angle, he had been advertised on the U.K. tour, which indicated they, at least at that point, didn’t think he was leaving. He was also announced to be inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame at Bound For Glory in October, and he was in the middle of a television program with Team 3-D vs. The Wolves vs. The Hardys.

    Even though the writing off of Sting, Hogan and Styles was mind-boggling in hindsight, particularly the final appearances of the latter two, they were written out. Of course they weren’t taping so far in advance, and while the company had issues at the time those stars left, it wasn’t in nearly the uncertain state it is now.

    LoMonaco was released by WWE in 2005 and even though he’s still probably more well known as an ECW star or a WWE star, he spent nearly ten years in TNA, far longer than he spent in either other organization. In recent years, as a singles star, he’s had the run of the place. He was TNA champion twice, lead heel for long periods in recent years, and even though he’s been kept apart from Bobby Lashley, he’s pretty much been pushed as top singles babyface since his turn at Lockdown. He largely books his own programs and is probably the most influential wrestler on the roster when it comes to creative.

    He’s also one of the few left (Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe come to mind as other ones) who is believed to have a big money contract, and that’s obviously an issue. He didn’t tell anyone anything past his contract was up and he didn’t think he was staying so he was saying goodbye. Interestingly, at the 8/6 tapings, when management wanted someone to tell talent not to believe the rumors about losing television, they used Bully Ray.

    WWE had expressed no interest in him for years, and when Devon was available, never made a play for him. The negative is that he’s got his detractors from his run before, notably Randy Orton, and his age is a factor. But he’s better as a performer now than when he was younger. Much of the latitude he gets in his TNA matches he wouldn’t have in WWE, and there are other factors as well. On the flip side, he’s a great talker, plays his character better than just about anyone and has a unique character. The Bully character is far easier to make work in TNA because they have a lot of smaller wrestlers and the only thing near a giant is Abyss. WWE has a lot of talent bigger than he is. Even if they didn’t want him as a wrestler due to style and age, he could still be valuable in a producer role or even a trainer role. But they also seem to have those positions filled and WWE is not in a hiring period.

    Devon is working on a short-term contract that will expire in a couple of months. Team 3-D were really big in Japan years ago, but New Japan is overloaded with foreigners and the other groups don’t have the kind of money to spend as compared to when Team 3-D were there after the WWE run ended.

    As far as the TV move goes, the NFL Network Thursday games hurt Impact ratings in the past, but CBS, because of its greater availability and higher visibility, would be expected to draw bigger numbers and hurt TNA more.

    Even worse than the NFL, is the possibility of Syfy moving Smackdown to Thursday. TNA has always gotten killed going head-to-head with WWE. Even after football season is over, if WWE makes the move, staying on Thursday could be disastrous.

    The company announced a return to Bethlehem, PA, for TV tapings from 9/16 to 9/19, which in theory would be about five weeks worth of television as well as a One Night Only PPV for 2015. Originally they had booked the Manhattan Center for an early September run. Bethlehem would be far cheaper to run. The fact the company had not announced anything past 9/7 at this point last week was cause for concern, even though talent had been told of future house show dates that were not scheduled nor advertised. These two announcements would lead one to believe the company will remain on Spike TV, or at least the odds appear better from the outside. But there has been no deal announced. It is also known that those in TNA are under the impression there is a backup plan for another television deal, although the belief is that it is with a station far less visible than Spike.

    What’s awkward about the next tapings is that the first day and part of the second day, they would likely be taping the final two shows leading to Bound for Glory.

    The rest of the tapings would air after. Given that TNA loads up its TV shows with title matches, they’d have to abandon the usual formula or they’d give away outcomes. Historically, TNA never taped Impact shows beore the PPV that would air afterward the PPV. Also, the post-Bound for Glory show or shows the two weeks after are usually among the company’s highest rated of the year. But that’s also because Bound for Glory usually had matches and angles that had been built for months and would usually end with a big angle and thus people would tune into see how things played out. The original plan was for Wrestle-1 to find an arena in Japan and to tape television the day or two after Bound for Glory, and at this point Wrestle-1 hasn’t been told anything different. No arena has been booked for the second show, but Gifu and Osaka are under consideration for the city.

    The move to Wednesday was clearly last minute. TNA had Mike Tenay and Taz in the studio doing voice over work two days before the 8/14 announcement. Nowhere in the commentary on the 8/14 show was there any talk of the day change. There was not even a late insert that could be done by either announcer from their home base, as often happens with inserting late Spike plugs for Bellator or Glory. I would expect there would be a number of audio edits on the 8/20 show. But that shows there wasn’t a hint of a change two days earlier. There clearly wasn’t at the recent TV tapings, since they taped a special show to commemorate 9/11 with references to it airing on that date, and the debut of war hero Christopher Melendez, for a show that will now air on 9/10. But there’s plenty of time to make edits to that show

    There is a question, given that the show has aired on Thursdays since April 2006 and fans are creatures of habit, how long it would take to get the audience to shift. For both WWE and TNA, when they stayed on their normal night but in each case moved the starting time up an hour, and promoted the change hard for weeks, it took the audience several weeks to fully tune in for the first hour. TNA fans had been loyal to Thursday, as during the period in 2010 when they went to Monday, they kept a Thursday replay, and most weeks the Thursday replay drew better numbers than the first-run Monday show.

    On the 8/14 show, the only mentions of the move were three 15 second commercials mentioning Impact’s new time starting next week of 9 p.m. that one would miss if not paying attention to commercials or if one DVR’d the show and skipped through (although 90% of TNA’s audience watches when it airs) and one commercial right at the end of the show, that one would miss if they switched the channel when the announcers signed off.

    TNA does have international commitments and contracts to provide programming. In addition as noted many times, Spike seemed amenable to keeping the show on the air if they needed some time to close a deal, either with Spike or with the new station. While TMZ has not followed up on the story, those at TMZ who broke the story said as late as this weekend that nothing has changed. Those at TNA are acting confident to partners that they have something ready to close and are not acting panicked.

    During the heyday of Ultimate Fighter, when it aired with TNA on Thursdays as the lead-in, the move of that show was made to Wednesday because it was being hurt badly by NFL games.

    On Wednesday, the show will go head-to-head in the fall with The Ultimate Fighter reality show. But that show wouldn’t be significant competition for Impact at this point, given its ratings. A large percentage of people who watch TUF do so at their convenience because of its huge DVR numbers.

    Even though Bound for Glory is supposed to be 10/12 in Tokyo, there was no mention this week on television of the show. It’s also not being promoted in Japan at all. From TV that has aired thus far, as well as looking at what has been taped and interviews, it seems they have no direction lined up for it and TV has already been taped through 9/24. There would be only two weeks to push big matches, and given it’s a taped show, I can’t see it doing significant business as a PPV, even compared to TNA’s usual levels.

    TNA’s television people are still scheduled to come to Japan in a week or two, check out Korakuen Hall, and then figure out the seating as far as what seats would be available, and at that point, announce the show and put tickets on sale. TNA has also asked Wrestle-1 to find a location for a post-BFG television taping in Japan on 10/13 or 10/14. It’s said they won’t announce the date until they can put tickets on sale, but until the television people see the building, they won’t know how the set will fit and thus don’t know the capacity and what seats are blocked. But they said nothing is wrong, and TNA has told Wrestle-1 that negotiations often end up going to the last minute and this is not different from other negotiations that can take a while to complete. But they are acting confident that nothing is wrong.

    The key tag title program with the Hardys vs. Wolves vs. Team 3-D will have already had four meetings on television over the next several weeks.

    Davey Richards also suffered a broken leg on the 8/15 house show in Indiana, PA. He was doing a sliding kick, and the leg got caught in a freak accident on the canvas. He suffered a broken fibula and a Grade 2 calf muscle tear. He’s not expected to be out of action for that long, saying he’s already doing physical therapy and should be back in four to six weeks, so it’s possible he’ll be back for the next set of TV tapings and he’s expected to make it back for Bound For Glory. Given that, I don’t anticipate them stripping them of the tag team titles. TNA has nothing on its schedule until a house show run from 9/5 to 9/7, and those are the final house shows listed on the schedule at press time.

    He’s definitely missing the Wolves scheduled tour of Wrestle-1 from 8/23 to 8/31, and Tigre Uno will be making his place as a tag team with Eddie Edwards, including matches with Shuji Kondo & Kaz Hayashi on the first and last day of the tour, the latter at Korakuen Hall.

    The injury came in a weird match, as The Wolves were defending against Ken Anderson & Devon, since Bully Ray missed the show. Richards was injured early in the match. From there it was impromptu. Abyss came out as Eddie Edwards’ partner. Then Ethan Carter III, who had been scheduled to face Abyss later in the show (in a match that ended up not happening), attacked and handcuffed Abyss. This left Edwards against both, but he pinned Devon to retain the titles.

    The injury can’t be acknowledged on television or the web site, since he’s in matches already taped through 9/24. As far as the tag titles go, a decision will be made based on how long he’ll be out of action, because with them taping so far ahead, if he can come back in six to eight weeks, with the TV taped so far in advance, while he’ll probably miss the next tapings as far as being able to wrestle, they can work around it. If it’s longer, they’ll have to be stripped.

    The big world title match they were pushing for Bobby Lashley was Bobby Roode, and that was taped this past week at TV, although there was enough dispute to do a rematch from it. But still, it would have made sense to do the first match at Bound for Glory, not TV. The putting Dixie Carter through a table, which they spent months building up, was also done for TV, which at this stage of the game with nobody buying their PPVs, isn’t the worst idea. Even a Samoa Joe vs. Low Ki X match, which has no real market value but at least sounds like a good PPV match, was done at the most recent tapings.

    I could see Great Muta & Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. James Storm & Great Sanada, but that’s going to be more for the live Japan market than a U.S. PPV audience.

    Vince Russo said that when he was first hired by TNA on October 24, 2013, that he was told that he could tell nobody he was with the company and that only three people were to know, he, Dixie Carter (who hired him) and John Gaburick. He said Carter told him that if anyone else found out, he would be fired, although obviously, in time, others found out and he even worked directly with creative and in recent weeks, with the announcers. Russo also said he was told months ago by John Gaburick that he told Scott Fishman, who is Spike’s liaison to TNA, that Russo was with the company. Several sources indicated that the reason the company panicked when it was revealed that Johnson had proof Russo worked for the company was because they were in tenuous negotiations with Spike and Spike didn’t want Russo there, and others said when the deal looked like it was falling apart, that was part of the reason. For what it’s worth, Hulk Hogan said that he knows people close to Kevin Kay and that Kay was furious when he found out that “a writer they didn’t like” was working there.

    Russo gave the more details of his being let go, and this is basically true. He said he wasn’t let go for sending the e-mail that may have cost the company its Spike deal. Russo pretty much said he’s scapegoated on that, and there is truth to that, since there were people at Spike who months ago in conversations with non-wrestling people I know indicated they probably weren’t renewing. If they were hot on renewing, the deal would have been cut before the Russo issue. However, it was an issue and it made TNA look awful. While there absolutely were people in the company who wanted him fired for that, Dixie Carter would not agree to it, as she’s always been defensive of Russo. He said TNA sent him an e-mail telling him not to do Jim Ross’ podcast. He ignored it and did it anyway, and was fired the morning after they taped. The story is that Carter always backed Russo, and even brought him back at a time when if it got out, it could risk her company, on the proviso nobody could tell anyone, but people found out and eventually the fingerprints were obvious on the TV show. She even backed him when he screwed up on the e-mail. But after all that, when he defied her by going on the Ross show, that apparently was one she couldn’t take. Russo also said they were unhappy because he did an interview with Shannon Spruill (Daffney), who had sued TNA, on his podcast. Russo noted, correctly, that Ross had Bully Ray and Kurt Angle on in recent weeks and nobody from TNA threatened to fire either of them. Russo said that he also told Ross that if he’d do the show, he wouldn’t talk about TNA anyway, similar to Eric Bischoff’s stipulation in doing Steve Austin’s show.


    Rafael Morfi, who had been in charge of the house shows, was at his final show this weekend and also said his goodbyes. He’s moved on to work for the New York Cosmos soccer team.

    Josh Lomberger, better known as Josh Matthews, who was introduced around right after being let go from WWE at a taping, has his non-compete with WWE expire around 9/20. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in as an announcer, since John Gaburick has known of him since the original season of Tough Enough, but he could not use the Josh Matthews name.

    TNA sent out a release that the 8/7 Impact, if you include people who watched via DVR between Thursday and Sunday, did 1.6 million total viewers, the largest audience to see the show since February. The release noted that TNA’s recent numbers over the past five weeks were the highest for any quarter in Males 18-34 since the first quarter of 2012, and the highest for total viewers, Overall 18-49 and Men 18-49 since the first quarter of 2013.

    Angle said he got a role in a movie with Marisa Tomei and Christopher Walken that will be shooting next month. He said it would be something of a sequel to “Every Which Way But Loose.”


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