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Surprise! TNA Impact Bombs On Monday

Hulk Hogan and Eric BischoffThank goodness TNA Wrestling love surprises. The all-important ratings are in for the start of the new weekly Monday Night Wrestling Wars. The pressure was undoubtedly on TNA Wrestling who drew first blood by moving their TNA Impact television show from Thursdays to Mondays to run head-up against WWE RAW. Well after promises of surprises and a “hot first five minutes”, the Impact rating is in and let’s just say the only surprise is a dismal debut for TNA and a lot of bleeding from two legends who are wrestling way past their prime.

TNA Wrestling finished with an overall 0.98 rating for the night. This was way down from the 1.5 rating that TNA Wrestling scored on January 04. TNA Impact did peak with a 1.7 at the fourth and fifth quarter hour segments however the number greatly dropped hitting as low as a 0.76 through the next forty-five minutes. The company came nowhere close to the 1.88 peak it generated on the January 04 show that went head to head with WWE RAW in the first Monday Night War of the year.

I have read and heard the spin from TNA Wrestling fans and quite frankly none of the excuses hold any water. The numbers don’t lie! The easy excuse is, “Well it well take time and the show won’t be a success overnight.” While that may normally true, the fact that TNA has already appeared on Monday nights and garnered much bigger ratings makes this excuse null in my opinion. People were predicting a number like this the first time that TNA moved to a Monday in January. The fact that TNA beat that instantly kills the argument because the 1.5 is a standard they set for themselves back in January.

This brings me to the comments I made following the news of the January 04 rating. I applauded them for the rating and actually declared them victors that night. However, I pointed out that while the rating was impressive it was where they went next that would dictate the success of the night. If two million tune in to see your television show, and half of them don’t ever tune in again, and TNA’s pay-per-view buys don’t see any increases, than how successful of a company are you?

While it may be a little early to call the Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff era a disaster, I don’t think we are that far off. After initial interest in seeing the new direction of the company, the ratings have continually dropped for TNA Impact. On Thursdays with no competition, the rating has drastically dropped over the last two weeks to below WWE NXT numbers. It will take a few months for the pay-per-view numbers to be officially released, but I can’t imagine a dramatic turn around when people are tuning out of their free television show. After 90 days all the company has done since turning the keys to the car over to Hogan and Bischoff is a) lose a ton of money on high-priced contracts for guys like Hogan, Ric Flair, RVD, and Jeff Hardy, b) lose its television audience, c) lose core fans that were watching before the transition, c) retract the progress of several stars, and d) decrease the effectiveness that Impact has had in promoting the paid shows. So objectively at this point I can’t see any reason not to call the transition a disaster.

There were some really entertaining moments on Monday nights. At the same time, there were several moments that just made you wonder if anyone in the company of such “brilliant writers” has a clue? For example, let’s start with the surprises. This is something I have been critical of for the last two years from TNA. TNA Wrestling continually to hype surprises on their biggest shows. That is fine when you already have a steady audience, but TNA are in no position to hype surprises. How do you just throw a Sting vs. Rob Van Dam match with no warning and expect anyone to watch? Yes the ratings peaked, but imagine if TNA promoted Sting vs. RVD for the last two weeks or even a week? Jeff Hardy was fine, but if nobody knows he is there, how do you expect them to sit through that horrendous Jeff Jarrett-Beer Money segment? Hey, it’s okay to have surprises every once in a while but when you are making such a monumental move, you need to lay all of your cards on the table and let the fans know about these special appearances and dream matches. TNA has pulled similar stunts on pay-per-views which even make less sense to me. The only surprise here is that a company would be that dumb as to hold all of their cards to their vest and expect fans to be waiting with baited breath for their big surprise.

My other criticism of TNA after watching this week is that I still really don’t understand the main storyline. I have been watching wrestling for 30 years and have worked in wrestling for well over a decade. Surely someone like me should be able to follow a simple storyline. If Dixie owns the company, can’t she just fire Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan? If Bischoff and Hogan are in charge, why is Dixie making matches? Whatever happened to Mick Foley’s ownership in the company? I honestly don’t get it and I really don’t get who is fighting for whom here at the end of the day. I think a little bit of ambiguity is a good thing, but this is just unheard of for a main storyline.

I can sit here and play Tuesday Morning Quarterback and pick apart various angles throughout the show, but that would just be nitpicking. My personal tastes may not equal the audience that TNA is targeting which I completely understand. Yet the audience that they are targeting is tuning out in droves. The bigger problem here is what TNA Wrestling’s next move will be. I can’t imagine their rating getting much better in its current state. Television is a tricky thing and it is not a given that TNA could just slide back to Thursdays with no repercussions. Will Spike TV just sit back and watch TNA slide from a 1.0, to a 0.88, to a 0.80? The irony here is that there was no logical reason for the move to Mondays. Dixie Carter was talked into one of the biggest con jobs in the history of the pro wrestling business.

Unfortunately for her, there may be no turning back.

Eric Gargiulo hosts Pro Wrestling Radio which airs Monday nights live at 7 PM/EST. To listen to the show and join the chat room live on Monday, click here. Check out http://www.prowrestlingradio.com for more details and archived shows.

Eric Gargiulo co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Jeff Peck which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site. There you can also download many different shows including “The Wheelhouse”, “24 on 24” and “Lost: Smoke Monsters and You.”

Order the WWE Hulk Hogan’s Unreleased Collector’s Series DVD collection by clicking here.

Order Hulk Hogan’s new autobiography, My Life Outside the Ring by clicking here.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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