EVERY NIGHT EVER
I covered last night's TNA One Night Only and beyond it being the first official "PPV" for the company under the Anthem ownership, there was nothing really noteworthy coming out of the PPV.
In some ways, that's not surprising. It was going to be a throwaway show because well, these shows always are. They are usually self-contained shows that begin and end without any major ripple effect on the company's storylines. In many cases, since they are taped so far in advance, TNA doesn't want to lock themselves into any plans that could end up changing.
Hell, sometimes the shows air months after talents have departed TNA. The shows are taped over various tapings and piece-mealed together. Sometimes, the company hasn't even cared to even promote the damn things are happening. Finances and other logistics have forced the company's hand and for the last few years, it was what it was.
That was, however, not the case last night. It was a live show in the middle of an ongoing batch of TV tapings. They had the chance to make people sit up and say, "Huh?" and get some good word of mouth out from fans who did watch the show, but in the end, it was not an experience you could view One Night Only, just the type of show you see every time TNA puts on one of these shows.
It's not that the wrestling wasn't solid, because it was - Lashley vs. Richards, Moose vs. Bennett and Edwards vs. EC3 were all solid to good encounters, but overall it was a show that won't be remembered in two weeks, after the next two episodes of Impact Wrestling have aired. Whatever audience is watching at this point in Impact Wrestling's run, they deserve better. There's no need to have a climatic title change, but to present what felt like just another show just seems like they were happy treading water when they could gone for a sprint.
In January 2017, almost three years into a landscape where the WWE Network and other streaming services have changed what a "PPV" price point is worth and especially during the debut week where Anthem is seeking to show their audience that the old regime is gone and the new one is the one they want to get behind, presenting just another show on just another night seems self-defeating.
Here's to hoping that the next time TNA has a live PPV, they present it in a way so it's not just a show that's every night ever. The key to generating interest and rebuilding fan support is to provide something fun, unique and different. There's new ownership now. While certainly one could argue TNA deserves a pass for last night, none of the old excuses hold water.
It's time to build TNA up, now, or what the hell was the point of acquiring it?
DON'T LET DECAY DECAY
One immediate and obvious change over Impact the last several days was the presentation of Decay, the trio of Abyss, Rosemary and Crazzy Steve.
Over the last year, the trio has helped breath new life into Abyss, one of the longest running performers in TNA, rebooted the previously lost in the shuffle Steve and plucked former Courtney Rush out of the Canadian independent scene to drop her into her first major run. They were presented as a legitimate threat and did a fine job as the foil for the Broken Hardy clan for "The Great War" and "Delate or Decay." They went from three talents on the roster to a legitimate cornerstone of what was a good year (from an in-ring standpoint) for TNA.
With the exit of Billy Corgan from the company, so went their Marilyn Manson theme music - and that's a real shame, as it was a case of a theme song accentuating an act and making it seem like a bigger deal. Viewers could feel the difference immediately.
The decision to do the "lights off/lights on" deal on the PPV last night also came off odd, almost as a cheaper takeaway of the Wyatt Family's "sudden" entrances.
Honestly, the hard work of all three (especially Abyss, who always did far too much to himself physically over the course of his TNA run) deserve better than the see them slide backwards, so let's hope that doesn't happen. Instead, let's hope this step backward for act that has come so far in the last year is a small one, leading to them moving forward yet again.
LUCHA TRAPPED UNDERGROUND?
One regular question we receive here at PWInsider.com for the Q&A is what the future of Lucha Underground will hold and honestly, there's no clear cut, definitive response as I write this column.
The third season of the El Rey series, with a huge focus on Sexy Star, doesn't seem to have maintained the buzz of the first two seasons, even with the addition of Rey Mysterio and the continued greatness of names like Prince Puma/Ricochet. Even the Aztec Warfare bout, a cornerstone of the season, didn't generate the explosive response of seasons before.
Perhaps even more telling is that unlike the first several seasons, there's no public relations firm sending out episode previews, videos, etc. There's no real touring. No new merchandise deals. The much talked about deal putting the series' episodes on a major streaming platform like Netflix has yet to materialize.
There has also been rumblings among talents signed to LU deals that the taping of the next season has been delayed, although for how long remains to be seen. LU is primarily a TV series, not a wrestling promotion and the way televison works, the mantra has always been "Hurry up and wait." With talents signed in for as many as seven cycles, they could be waiting a long time for that next pick-up. That's not unusual for television, although for pro wrestling, where everything is always in the moment and about the now, that's a disconcerting feeling.
As is always the case with pro wrestlers, such a thing leads to concerns that the worst is about to happen, although truth be told, the same thing happened in between the first and the second season. Wrestlers always fear the worst. They also want to work, now. With a potential delay in when the series will continue on, one talent has even been calling around to others pitching the idea they put together their own touring troupe using the "Underground" name as their hook.
It will be interesting to see whether LU continues on past this third season, but I'm hoping that it does, because it's been produced and filmed differently from any promotion before, did a tremendous job of creating and establishing its own mythology and expanded the idea of what a pro wrestling show could be. It deserves a better fate than to quietly fade away and be lost, truly, to the underground.
TIME TO HONOR REGAL
With all the talk of who will be in the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame, it's time to see the company honor William Regal.
One of the last journeyman professional wrestlers, from European independents to WCW to New Japan to his current role as WWE's top scout, Regal has, through all his ups and downs, had a hell of a career and an incredible series of life experiences - many of which he wrote about in his excellent and underrated autobiography "Walking the Golden Mile."
In many ways, though, Regal has hardly gotten the accolades he truly deserves. I mean, think about it: his in-ring work was impeccable. He was a wizard in terms of building matches in the ring with his timing, finesse and body language. His mannerisms as a performer in WCW as Lord Steven and especially in WWE were always hilarious and over the top in the right way yet never detracted from the idea that deep down, he was a bad-ass not to be screwed with. He's been able to take the total sum of his experiences, good and bad, and impart them to the next generation. He's been the one to put talents from all over the world into the attention of Triple H and in doing so, has helped shape the next generation of WWE.
Even for one of these reasons, another talent would be honored with the Hall of Fame. Regal has all of those reasons. I mean, if you love pro wrestling, I shouldn't really even need to make a case as to why Regal deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, so I won't any further.
But, WWE should be inducting him this year - for all the reasons above - and because the speech will be magnificent.
Mike Johnson can be reached at MikeJohnsonPWInsider@gmail.com.
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