In the midst of renewed cancellation rumors, its ironic that TNA is part of the new night for pro-wrestling… Wednesday Night Wrestling. Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground & NXT round out a hump day full of wrestling that doesn’t include any of the stars from the big two shows, RAW or SmackDown. While the shows aren’t at “war” the way RAW and Nitro were 15 years ago, four different organizations are showcasing four alternative styles of wrestling all on the same night. If that isn’t good for pro-wrestling, I’m not sure what is.
Impact was deleted off of my must-watch list a long time ago but this new Wednesday is Wrestling movement gave me enough reason to check out TNA for the first time in months. And it looks NOTHING like it did when it left. Gone is the overly plastic Universal Studios sound-stage. Gone are the voices of Taz and Mike Tenay. Gone are the wrestlers from the Attitude Era hogging the main event. And gone is the endless parade of authority figures. What’s left is a company of very, very talented men and women plying their trade to the very best of their ability and not many people are watching. But it was the move to Wednesday night that caught my attention again and I’m glad it did.
And part of what helped TNA catch my eye was the addition of Ring Of Honor to Destination America’s Wednesday night wrestling line-up. I’ve followed ROH for many years but have only been a casual watcher of their product since their debut with the Sinclair Broadcasting Group last year. I was always impressed with the relative high quality of their production as well as how smoothly their TV show ran. I’ve watched many episodes of RAW and SmackDown that haven’t been nearly as coherent as ROH TV. With the move to Wednesday and Destination America, ROH is much easier to find and the pairing with TNA helps the audience get into a wrestling mindset for the duration of the night. ROH has the roster, creative booking and lineage to make the move to a bigger audience. They’ve taken their time building the company & I’m watching closely to see what ROH can do in the near future.
Probably the most surprising development of this Wednesday revolution has been the rise of Lucha Underground. Not officially a wrestling organization, a television series produced by reality television guru Mark Burnett & filmmaker Robert Rodriguez has become a true alternative for many people longing for something other than mainstream-style sports-entertainment. Former WWE stars Alberto Del Rio, John Morrison and Chavo Guerrero Jr. have all achieved success on the lucha libre TV show and helping propel the show to great ratings and a renewal for a second season. I HIGHLY recommend finding a way to watch this show as not only does it feature a great array of talent but also demonstrates a much different way a wrestling show can be presented and still be taken seriously.
And lastly there’s the phenomenon called NXT. It’s amazing to think that if it wasn’t for the WWE Network, NXT as we know it wouldn’t exist. They wouldn’t have national broadcasting rights. Merchandising would be virtually non-existent. And who knows if all of the recent “big name” independent stars like Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and Finn Bálor would signed with the WWE at all. But that’s not the case at all as Vince McMahon DID take the gamble on the WWE Network & DID take a gamble on putting Triple H in charge of the entire project. And Triple H HAS made it much watch television for any wrestling fan. More readers of HTC watch NXT than they do SmackDown, Impact & ROH combined! Independent locker rooms regard it as almost a different company than the WWE. Wrestlers look at NXT as a place where you are not only given a fair opportunity but you are also provided with all of the tools needed to succeed. And the fans are noticing this as well. There’s never a “lost cause” in NXT as a wrestler could be a jobber one taping and then in a number 1 contender’s match six months from now. Right now everything is going right down south in NXT. Now they just have to fix the communication problems they have when someone is called up “north”.
That’s it! Let me know what you think of this new featured post. I had fun writing it and it definitely made me watch the WWE in a whole different way. Leave me your feedback here, on Twitter @mattharrak or email me at MattHarrak@HTCwrestling.com.