Over The Edge: Why Tonight’s Impact Wrestling Is My Last

The title could be an exaggeration, I’ll most probably watch again, but in weeks to come I’m not going to watch.

This won’t interest TNA’s officials, I stream the show due to the Atlantic ocean separating I from acquiring Spike TV and Challenge’s tape delay doesn’t do it justice, so I watch live like an American, so their not losing a viewer, and I rarely buy any of their merchandise so no money either, but instead what they have lost is a long time, loyal fan.

I started watching NWA:TNA in 2004 during a time when I sought out an alternative to WWE’s talkative episodes of Monday Night Raw where Triple H would kick-off the show, speak for fifteen or twenty minutes, be interrupted, a match be made, go to break, comeback and we’d get even more of “The Game” and his associates thoughts – remember this point for later, it’s very relevant. It was boring. I didn’t watch for talking, I watched for wrestling, talking is an incentive, if you like talking watch soap operas.

TNA had just began on The Wrestling Channel which I was lucky to have a free subscription to due to my family obtaining a Sky subscription. I would see faces of old popping up from every side and the wrestling was good, it introduced me to guys like AJ Styles and Amazing Red who at the time wasn’t working for Ring of Honor, Ron Killings, Christopher Daniels and old faces such as Jeff Jarrett, Jerry Lynn and others.

I watched as Jeff Jarrett controlled the company on-screen as the more often than not, up to no good, old-school bad guy, sided with Planet Jarrett who featured America’s Most Wanted, a team who would become a favorite of mine especially during their feud with the Latin American Xchange who I was a big fan of due to what I’d seen of Homicide in Ring of Honor and Konnan who I recognized from WCW.

Once Christian Cage, my favorite WWE Superstar at the time of his departure and arrival in TNA debuted I took an invested interest in the show, watching every week to see what Christian would do next as he rose to the top and became NWA World Heavyweight Champion by defeating Jeff Jarrett, a personal favorite moment in wrestling of mine.

Samoa Joe‘s destructive debut and undefeated streak made me that much more interested in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Joe was an animal, an unbeatable monster before TNA and one in it – of course this Joe is long gone. Kurt Angle joining TNA was one of those moments where I can vividly recall my jaw dropping and my eyes bulging open as he screamed at the camera and spoke the words, “Oh it’s real, it’s damn real!”

Countless moments of joy I could mention, from seeing Austin Aries, the guy I watched become ROH World Champion twice on DVD’s I still own and purchased when the majority of you could care less who he was, to him climbing to the top of the TNA mountain, driving Bobby Roode‘s head into the mat with the Brainbuster and making the cover to become the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, to Hulk Hogan‘s debut.

And then, I sat through the horrible, mundane, repetitive television which was the year 2010.

The Nasty Boys – I had to watch The Nasty Boys – on TNA PPV in 2010. The Band, a watered down, near broken version of the New World Order, the once most powerful group in professional wrestling attempt to reform in 2010, and not at a wrestling convention or on a nostalgia show where it belongs but on weekly television. And the horrible booking, where one week someone – Matt Morgan – could turn face only for the next week turn again to heel, or Hulk Hogan hand Abyss a “magical” Hall of Fame ring. AJ Styles mimicking Ric Flair is very much included in this list of atrocities.

But as a fan, I continued watching. Even when I shouldn’t have, I did, through it all, in the hope that the end would produce a bright light.

And it did – for a time – it improved. We got a better weekly show with wrestling matches that actually made you want to watch. We got angles that intrigued you and made you want to watch. Segments that entertained us, PPV’s that delivered, all of it was going so good. I can remember people actually taking TNA’s product, comparing it to WWE’s Raw and stating, “it’s so much better,” and actually having an argument.

And then we had tonight, because tonight, for me, a lot of things have changed.

It’s now 4:04am where I’m from in Dublin, Ireland. I watched tonight’s episode hoping that after an underwhelming Bound for Glory, with false finishes and several thousand swerves that they’d produce something worthy of my viewership, but instead, I got a show with less than twenty minutes of wrestling (Knockouts match lasted 3:35, Ethan Carter III vs Dewey Barnes lasted 2:38 and the main event stopped at 13:38 for those keeping count).

Our own Jacob Stachowiak wrote a great piece a few months ago about how Impact Wrestling was a show based upon conflict, a war for power, whether that be between stables and the authorities at the healm or characters for an object, such as AJ Styles and Bully Ray for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship or otherwise, and Jacob is one of the few honest TNA (admittedly) marks I know, so I must analyze a point he made in this article when describing Impact Wrestling:

The X-division is all about pure wrestling and athletic display, and many claim that it is a big part of TNA’s success growing up as America’s number two wrestling promotion. Also, the tag team division and Knockout’s division were once considered some of the best tag team and women’s wrestling on the planet at one point in the company’s history. So, while conflict and power struggles may always be the main motif of TNA’s creative direction, good to great wrestling is often also featured.

In comparison to WWE, their production values are not too shabby and have been improving year after year. But unlike their supposed superior, they do not force it down your throat. TNA is about a wrestling show where story comes first before anything else, at least in certain aspects.

Diversity is a key to success and while watching Impact Wrestling you expect: a fight, a war, drama, tension, and good wrestling on top of it. Wrestling fans who enjoy all those things will stick with TNA always through the very good and very bad times respectively.

Tonight I got some drama, I got some tension, I got some war and even some comedy – I reference Christopher Daniels, James Storm and Kazarian, not Robbie E and that guy whose holding the second-half of the TNA World Tag Team Championships – but I got very little wrestling, and the wrestling I got I would describe as good at best, so for me to feel somewhat cheated by the fact a company with wrestling in its titled shows name, is a fair assessment from my view.

I watch professional wrestling for the wrestling. If you’re a fan of Combat Zone Wrestling and you read this please don’t feel discouraged when you read this and I tell you I don’t watch, because I don’t view spot monkeys blading for bladings sake and not knowing the difference an Armlock from a Hammerlock as wrestling. The odd gem that passes through the doors may gain a watch of a match or two but that is where my viewership concludes.

In its dying days I did not watch World Championship Wrestling not because of its lack of wrestling content – in my youth I had not came to the realization that I enjoyed the wrestling aspect of what I was viewing – but because Bret Hart no longer featured, my main and sole reason for watching. But funnily enough a few months ago I tried watching an old episode of Nitro and couldn’t, because twenty five minutes in and I was still enduring the opening nWo promo.

Chikara – better ready the fists on this one – I don’t watch, not because it features a lack of wrestling but more-so because that type of wrestling just isn’t my style. Comedy is nice and I find entertainment value in moments such as when Player Uno’s pause button is hit and Delirious calls Princess Peaches a bitch, but I just can’t become invested in it. I feel that’s why two of my favorite wrestlers in Chikara are Tim Donst and Eddie Kingston, because while they feature some comedic moments it isn’t all about the anime tributes and references.

Tonight after nine years of following the product known as Impact Wrestling, I am done. In a world where the Internet allows you access to a wide variety of promotions from all across the world (New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Road to Power Struggle airs on iPPV tonight on uStream featuring The Young Bucks, Trent?, Brian Kendrick, Prince Devitt and loads more, for only $15) I don’t have to watch, I choose to, and when it takes nine years to lose a fan, that is when you realize something truly isn’t right.

Maybe I’m exaggerating, maybe tonight’s episode was the prelude to a new, better Impact Wrestling – but how many times have we heard that? And how many times has it actually happened? I don’t care about their positioning in the list of wrestling companies and their size, I don’t care about the production levels, it doesn’t matter to me whether the wrestlers enter via a tunnel or a long, boardwalk-esq stage, but remove the wrestling from it and give me what I got tonight and you don’t deserve these beautiful blue eyes anymore.

In 2004 I briefly stopped watching WWE and searched for an alternative to inevitably find promotions such as Ring of Honor and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, in 2013 I am stop watching Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and may replace it with a wrestling company foreign or independent who provide wrestling content, or even a television show – House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey is calling me – and when TNA gives me reason to return, I will, but for now, it’s a case of until we meet again.