Thanks to Karen Belcher of ProWrestlingDigest.com for this report of yesterday’s TNA press conference with President Dixie Carter:
President Dixie Carter is looking forward to TNA’s next 10 years, she said in yesterday’s TNA press teleconference to discuss this week’s new time – one hour earlier, going LIVE for the summer, Brooke Hogan’s debut this week, Sting’s return, and more.
Voting will open at noon May 31, at http://www.impactwrestling.com/ for fan’s to choose Devon’s opponent in a TV Title match. The results of the voting will be announced on tomorrow night’s LIVE show, which will start at a new time, ONE HOUR EARLIER, at 8:00 pm eastern. LIVE shows will continue through the summer.
Dixie said that she and the wrestlers are excited about the new live format, and also about the new “reality based” format, which will include more scenes like last week’s of Hogan and others talking backstage. She said that bit gave fans a fresh look at Hogan and 4 other important figures in TNA, and that they hope that fans will enjoy learning more about the wrestlers, and this fresh look at TNA and wrestling.
Dr. Mike Lano told Dixie that she reminds him of Ann Gunkel, who took on the NWA all by herself, and DIxie thanked him for the compliment. He asked her what Brooke Hogan can contribute to TNA, and if they wouldn’t get much more value for their money if they used it to hire people like Scott D’Amore or Fit Findlay, who have real experience and made TNA’s women’s division such a standout when they were working for TNA. Dixie claimed that Brooke has a lot of wrestling knowledge just from living in Hulk Hogan’s home and seeing him and the other wrestlers who visited there. She said that she hopes the fans will give her a chance, and that they will be pleasantly surprised.
She said that if you are smart, you will listen to your fans, and pay attention to what they want, and that she tries to do that, and that she does weigh their feedback. TNA will be celebrating 10 years in business in a few days, and they have achieved a lot in that time. May people didn’t think they would last 10 weeks, let alone 10 years. They made many mistakes, but they learned from them. She invited fans to come back if they haven’t watched TNA in a while, and said that she thinks they will be pleasantly surprised.
A 3 hour show is not something that they want to do at this time – they decided long ago that they would rather go for quality over quantity. They would, however, like to have more tv time in the U.S. and are working on ways to get that. They are planning some specials for the upcoming year.
Their ultimate goal is to go live and on the road, but the touring market is soft right now, so they need to be patient. They will stay in Universal for the live shows this summer, although they may use some video clips from other places for the new “reality” based segments. There are no plans to continue the live shows beyond this summer. They would love to continue it, but that is something that will have to be looked at in the future.
There has been a big change in how people watch tv in recent years, and most of them watch DVR’d shows. They and others in tv will have to change how they look at the ratings.
Dixie said to not acknowledge competition is ridiculous. Competition is critical, for fans, if nothing else, so that they have options. Competition can also help companies to improve. She wants to compete within the same business, but look at it with fresh eyes. She wants to make her product different, so fans have a choice. They don’t take the fans for granted. They don’t just take the money, it’s their duty to give a full experience to the fans.
Although they are starting an hour earlier, they will still try to keep things as real as possible. Of course, they have to strike a balance – if you have too much blood or extreme moves, then it loses effect.
One big benefit of the live shows will be that there won’t be any advance reviews or spoilers that can affect if or when the fans watch. Even if they know what matches will be on the show, they won’t know what order they will be in, and they won’t know the outcomes, or any surprises that may happen during the show. They will form their own opinions, rather than judging the show based on what someone else thinks.
They find new talent through the Gut Check, and fans will see more of that with the new “reality” aspect of the shows. They won’t just choose men for the Gut Check; they are considering a woman wrestler for the near future.
She said that changing time slots will be the biggest unknown factor in the changes they are making. Will fans forget, and tune in at the old time, missing the first hour?
The new “reality” feature will be a mix of live and taped items. She thinks that fans have unfairly judged Hulk Hogan, in saying that he’s only there for the money, and that they will see how much he cares about TNA, and how much he contributes when they see more of the “reality” segments.
They have not set any ratings goal for the live shows. They want to give it a chance to work. They have worked hard to set up a 6 month story arc, and they are proud of the development in that arc.
She would not say much about Ric Flair and Alex Shelley – they want to respect the wrestlers’ privacy. Regarding Alex, they would love to have him back at any time he would like to return. She has “no comment” about Ric Flair.
Dixie stated that getting to Australia and New Zealand is a big priority, as far as new markets are concerned. They are already looking at locations and making other arrangements there, and TNA will be there “sooner rather than later.”
She admitted they have not been great at followup in the past: Who kidnapped Samoa Joe, and what happened to the Jackie Gayda blackmail tape? They are working on changing that, and she thinks that they have done much better in the last few months, and will do in the future.
Fans should not expect a completely new show when they tune in tomorrow. It will still be TNA, and they will evolve over time. She is excited about seeing where this will take them.
They are working to reduce concussions and injuries. There has been a concentrated effort by TNA to move away from the more dangerous moves, especially unprotected chair shots. They are concerned about injuries such as those to Jesse Sorensen and Chris Sabin.
Their Germany tour was canceled due to an issue with a promoter. They need to go back an put in more of an effort in Germany.
Bruce Pritchard has been fantastic as the Sr. VP of programming and talent relations. She has many advisors, and a team that is passionate about growing TNA.
They bring in outside celebrities to brand and promote TNA in other markets. They try to relate the appearances to the storylines, and try to have it make sense. They are trying to grow awareness of the product outside of wrestling.
They are working on something new for the UK, and should announce it soon. They would like to do a tv show from the UK, but they aren’t able to fit it into the schedule right now.
The X Division is still important to TNA, but they have had a lot of injuries lately that affected their plans. They can’t just put anyone into the X Division; it has to be a special kind of wrestler, or they won’t fit, and it won’t work. They are looking for X Division style wrestlers.
She claimed that the wrestlers don’t like the six-sided ring, so that’s why they got rid of it. She said they did bring it back at the Destination X PPV, and they may bring it back for special events in the future, but it will never be back on a regular basis.
They are making a change on the Gut Check panel. The meeting was taped, and fans will be able to see it online.
Dixie said that Vince Russo is a brilliant writer with lots of great ideas, but sometimes it’s just time for a change in a company, and in people’s lives. The changes since he left are not related to Vince, but rather to taking a new look at TNA through fresh eyes. She truly wishes him success in the future.
She said that she looks back on the bad times in TNA’s past as fondly as the good times. She would not want to go back to the bad times, but they do build character and teach you lessons. She is very excited about the next 10 years.
She agrees that they need to do a better job of getting the crowd energy across, especially at the live shows. Even though the crowds are often so loud that you can’t hear yourself talk, that somehow does not translate well on tv.
If she could sign anyone from the competition roster, it would be The Rock. There’s no one else she has in mind; she’s proud of their roster, and thinks they have the best wrestlers in the business.
They make money on all their PPVs, so she would like to continue doing as many as possible. With the number of PPVs going to be cut back, they will have to find some way to make up for that lost revenue.
It will be very hard for them to replace Don West, and he will be very much missed.
Regarding the internet critics, she said that we are all Monday Morning Quarterbacks on some level. She thinks that most of the fans who are critical of TNA do it out of a passion for wrestling, and wanting them to be as good as they can be. There are some spiteful people, but that’s a part of life. They admit that they have made mistakes, and have given good reason for some criticisms, and they want to improve.
Bobby Roode and James Storm are the next big stars. Bully Ray is a fantastic example of someone who has reinvented himself.
TNA is poised to grow, and they have 10 very exciting years ahead.
There will be another press teleconference next week, for Slammiversary.