The May 26, 2014, edition of WWE Raw suffered its lowest rating of the year. Daniel Bryan’s injury, CM Punk’s departure, and the lack of gripping storylines have wrestling fans exploring other options on Monday nights. Many fans are also tired of nonsense such as Drew McIntyre losing to El Torito and Damien Sandow playing ridiculous characters. If fans are drifting away from the WWE, could they find solace in a competitor’s product?
Of course, television ratings are relative and TNA president Dixie Carter would give her southern accent for the 3.6 million viewers that Raw garnered on May 26. TNA’s Thursday night show, Impact Wrestling, usually only draws about one million viewers. Although TNA is clearly the number two wrestling promotion in America, even its most ardent fans do not consider it a serious competitor for the WWE.
After carving out a nice niche for itself in the wrestling community in the 2000s, TNA has made a number of glaring errors in recent years. Wrestling fans accused Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan of living in the past by bringing has-beens and WCW storylines into TNA. Now current creative director Jon Gaburick is copying WWE strategies and angles. In fact, the May 22 edition of Impact Wrestling had no wrestling matches until 35 minutes into the show.
However, TNA recently posted a poll asking wrestling fans if they’d like to see the return of the six-sided ring. The uniqueness of TNA’s old ring, the groundbreaking X-Division, and the showcasing of the Knockouts division all helped TNA gain a following in the past. If wrestling fans are becoming disenchanted with the WWE’s nonsense, then TNA can increase its viewership by distancing itself from the WWE’s creative direction.
And the summer is the perfect time for TNA to increase its ratings. For most of the year, Impact Wrestling goes against brutal competition for the young male demographic. NFL games, March Madness, the NFL Draft, and the NBA Playoffs all give TNA fits for most of the year. However, once the NBA Finals end in mid-June, TNA will have little competition on Thursday nights for nearly three months. TNA must make a big splash over the summer in 2014.
The only thing the WWE has going for it right now is the feud between John Cena and The Wyatt Family. Despite all the criticism he receives, John Cena is the most reliable wrestler on the WWE roster and he elevates everyone with whom he works. Bray Wyatt is absolutely chilling on the mic and his ring psychology hearkens back to another era. However, Cena and Wyatt cannot talk and wrestle each other for three hours on Monday nights.
TNA was at its best when it wasn’t trying to be WCW and the WWE. Rumors about the return of the six-sided ring are promising if it means TNA wants to attract its original fans and diehard wrestling fans to its product. Without real competition on Thursday nights throughout the summer, this may be Dixie Carter’s last great chance to contend with the WWE. Otherwise, Jeff Jarrett may soon own the number two spot among wrestling promotions once again.
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