Today marks the announcement many believe to be a tipping point for TNA. This COULD be the announcement that marks the beginning of the end of the Impact Zone. Since 2004, TNA has called Orlando home and has grown more with each passing year, with the possible exception being 2010, which was barely worth watching. In any case, since that time, the Impact Zone has been the safety net to house the comforts of stability for the 6 years they have been there. But today COULD be a trial flight, testing the success of leaving the comfort zone and moving into the WWE dominated wrestling mainstream.
But here's the kicker.....Can TNA have their cake and eat it too? To be more clear, is TNA in a position to not only tour the country in reasonable sized venues, but keep their broadcasts live as well? Huntsville, Alabama made me a believer when they came in force to give TNA a proper welcome to their venue. But I'm not talking about ONLY Alabama here, folks. Is the rest of the United States willing to make room for TNA in their weekly viewing regimen? While live broadcasts were fine in the Impact Zone, taking a LIVE feed on the road is a proposition all its own. You want a consistent viewing public to see the show, but you ALSO want the venue and the crowds within to be of high quality as well, making the show look like the powerhouse it could grow to one day be.
I don't want anyone to think I don't have confidence in the brand.....I wouldn't be well past 700 columns in support of them if I didn't. I AM concerned only to the degree that the US, who don't even compare to the loyalty the U.K. fans have shown to the brand by showing up in CAPACITY force at virtually every engagement. That's right, I said it. TNA has won some very impressive inroads with Europe by gaining the confidence of the fans there. At home, however, WWE is the only show in town, by viewing the numbers. This isn't to say there AREN'T pockets of HUGE fan support. New York fans came out in force to give TNA their best attendance for a live event at nearly 6000 people for one of their BaseBrawl tours. Joplin, Missouri boasted nearly 3000 people at a live event, which makes me proud of the fans in the South and East.
Here's the point I'm wanting to make here, folks, and this isn't even a challenge to current fans of the product, but rather to the fans of WWE's product who have gotten a bit tired of the PG Era and want to see a change in the wrestling landscape. Go see a TNA show. If Vince sees that the new kid on the block is getting a following, he'll step up his game. It happened in 1996, when the nWo phenomenon began and it could happen again. TNA NEEDS to grow in order for everyone to win. If TNA is going to travel AND stay live, that means fans of WRESTLING need to put their money where their mouth is and support the underdog to save their OWN brand.
Can TNA have their cake and eat it too? A fair question and one that will only be told in the weeks that follow the taped UK broadcasts and the next PPV. Whatever the outcome, I think this test of fan support will determine just how long the Impact Zone will remain in TNA's future. If all goes well, we'll see it in the rearview, but if the fan support isn't there, it'll take a bit more time for the public to come around. Either way, we win the day as a broadcast outside the Zone looks SO much better.