Start Of Impact Wrestling's 'New Era' Falls Flat

Imagine you have been hired as a writer for the new season of your favorite TV show. How would you choose to plot out the season premiere? By establishing new characters and new issues to recapture lapsed fans and attract new ones? Or, spend the bulk of that first script talking about characters who had left the show and, on-camera, having the existing cast discuss all the narrative mistakes from prior seasons?

That seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? But, inexplicably, the new creative team at Impact Wrestling chose to focus on the second approach during the first episode on its watch.

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There is nothing about that tactic that benefits this promotion.

It does nothing to attract lapsed fans, only serving as a reminder of the faces they would no longer see by tuning in every week. It did, however, serve as a great advertisement for WWE, since you can see AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Bobby Roode every week on their programming.

It does nothing to attract new fans, who will have to become attached to current wrestlers and storylines if they are going to continue watching.

And it's an insult to Impact's current fans, who basically get mocked for keeping up with the product until now... to say nothing of the slap in the face to the incumbent talent on the roster, who continued to work and remain loyal to the company despite all the turmoil and financial uncertainty behind the scenes. Let's not forget the healthy serving of cognitive dissonance from emphasizing the history of TNA (15 years!) and then talking about the plethora of missteps from the promotion's past.

During a pre-taped promo, Bobby Lashley described the Impact roster as “a bunch of hungry guys that enjoy wrestling.”

It would have been nice if this "opening act" of the new era had done more to emphasize those men and women. Rather than let Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards go out and tear the house down in a match (which they can do and have done repeatedly), we had extended promos by Dutch Mantell and Bruce Prichard. At least they made it on camera; Trevor Lee, the current X Division champ, was completely MIA. As Impact tries to rebuild its name and its brand, those are three individuals who should be a major part of the plan. 

Meanwhile, any attempt to establish new additions to the roster, aside from Alberto El Patron, was lost in the bickering that emanated from the commentary table all night. I have no problem with the general idea of a feud between announcers Jeremy Borash and Josh Matthews. During their initial back-and-forth promo, Matthews came off well as an obnoxious heel (I particularly liked when he turned his back on Borash and started checking his phone). I think Matthews actually would be a very promising heel manager for the promotion, especially given that he is trained to wrestle and can take a beating as his great comeuppance.

But was it a smart idea to have two-thirds of your three-man booth arguing throughout a show where you are trying to establish and build new names? Debut matches for Reno Scum and Rachael Ellering (who faced Sienna) metaphorically drowned in the torrent of snark coming from Borash and Matthews.

It's going to take time to "make Impact great." Unwatchable episodes like last night's only alienate current followers, while doing little to attract lapsed or new fans to the product.

Continuing down this path, and the end result will be a product that is doomed to irrelevance,

And that's just not how you make an Impact.

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