I didn’t start this blog to talk about wrestling news. There’s all kinds of places for that kind of stuff and I find backstage rumors and their ilk my least favorite part of following wrestling. Sometimes there is something worth talking about though, and today some news dropped that was big enough to change today’s post from being about NXT to being about a promotion I never talk about: TNA.
It was announced this morning that the cable channel Destination America, the channel in which TNA Impact airs, has also bought the syndication rights for Ring of Honor’s weekly show, and will be airing it before Impact on Wednesdays. This is the biggest wrestling news since the WWE Network was officially announced, and is full of implications. On the outside, this seems great. More wrestling to more televisions is never bad, and Wednesday has suddenly become the best night of wrestling on TV with ROH, Impact, NXT, and Lucha Underground all airing. People who watch Ring of Honor might stick around for Impact, and people who watch Impact might turn in early for Ring of Honor. Win/Win, right? Maybe not.
TNA and Destination America have had a short and rocky relationship so far. Once TNA and the Spike cable network parted ways, TNA didn’t have a lot of options. Getting in-depth into the financial workings of TNA is difficult, since they are a private company and do not make their financial information known. However, it was fairly well known that Spike financed a lot of Impact, and eventually dropped the show because of the cost. So TNA needed to find another network that would put up a decent amount of money. They ended up on Destination America. While Spike was a channel most people at least knew about, DA was third tier cable.
At first, their relationship seemed fine, but lately the cracks have been showing. Rumors have abounded that talent and production crews aren’t getting paid on time. TNA says nothing about it. They change the night they air Impact, and that is almost never a good sign. Rumors abound that TNA president Dixie Carter and DA management exchanged unpleasant emails, perhaps because someone CC’d someone they shouldn’t have. TNA’s current run on TV is scheduled to end in September, and there has been no word on any renewal. On the contrary, there is a lot of speculation that Impact will NOT be renewed, and no one in TNA is telling anyone. They certainly aren’t making anything public.
And today came the news that DA has signed more wrestling. Ring of Honor offers a very important advantage over TNA. DA spends a lot of money helping produce Impact. By comparison, ROH is a syndicated show, so my understanding is they merely have to pay the syndication fee. It’s a substantially smaller investment for the network, so even if ROH has lower ratings and lower advertising revenue, it will still be a better deal for Destination America. The Ring of Honor in-ring product is better for the most part, and they have a better deal with other wrestling companies. They recently ran a series of shows with New Japan Pro Wrestling, many of their stars work other independent promotions, and we can’t ignore that many current stars in WWE got their start in ROH. The WWE-ROH relationship deserves more talk, but for now, it’s enough that they are at least on amicable terms. WWE has used Ring of Honor tapes in their DVD compilations, and Samoa Joe will be working for WWE and still allowed to work independents, including ROH.
So where does this leave Impact? No one knows. It’s all guesswork at this point. TNA certainly has its own advantages. They have a high profile with at least a few better known wrestlers. There is also an advantage in being exclusive. If you want to see TNA, you HAVE to go to Destination America. If it is possible to keep both shows, I’m hoping DA will do so. There is no negative to more wrestling on TV. Though I don’t watch a lot of TNA currently, I have in the past, and they are home to some of my favorite wrestlers. I don’t want to see Impact go away. Someday I’ll write more about TNA, and Dixie Carter probably deserves a post all on her own, but for now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.