Donald Wood: The biggest piece of news from TNA was the move from SpikeTV to Destination America, beginning with the first episode on Wednesday, January 7 and switching to Friday nights starting on January 16. Do you feel the transition is good for the long-term betterment of the company and what positives has the relationship between Destination America and TNA already spawned behind the scenes?
Dixie Carter: Well I think it is critical for the company. We were in a position where in negotiations I went to every network saying, ‘Look, we are not interested in just licensing our two hour show Impact for your network. I am interested in a partner, someone who will help build our brand, give us more exposure, provide new programming for us’, and that’s exactly what we have gotten and more with the support of Discovery and Destination America. We are very, very excited about all that they are giving us across all ten Discovery networks; support, print advertising, PR, radio, digital. It is everything we had hoped it would be.
Mike Chiari: Over the past week TNA has announced the re-signing of several stars, and perhaps the biggest among them is Kurt Angle. Kurt admitted that he was going to play the field a bit and considered going back to WWE, but what do you think TNA was able to offer that made Kurt decide it was the best fit for him? And also, how big is it for TNA to secure someone with Kurt’s track record?
Dixie Carter: Well I think Kurt was a game changer for us when we first signed him. I think it is important at such a new beginning for us to still have him as a corner stone for our company. Kurt looks at all the positive changes that are happening. Our signing with Destination America out in Los Angeles, the new network deal, the commitment from them, he sees the big picture and he gets it. He is a joy to work with and a real leader for us. We are thrilled to have him.
Brandon Galvin: It’s an exciting time for the company. What is the atmosphere like backstage at TNA and what are you most looking forward to with the new direction of the company?
Dixie Carter: Unfortunately, I’m not even going to see what the atmosphere is like Wednesday. I will be in Los Angeles while they are going live in New York. I am representing Discovery and Destination America at the Television and Critics Association. Again, that’s just part of what they are asking us to do. Ken Anderson, Chris Melendez and I will be there. We will be representing our show and network in front of hundreds of media representatives. Just the whole vibe from the locker room, everyone was so supportive. They realize that this is what we have all been wanting and hoping for. This is going to be a great fresh start for us.
Donald Wood: The move to a different channel has led to speculation that the company would be hitting the reset button on many of the top storylines. Do you view the move as a chance to reboot the product or is it more important to carry over the same angles and characters to ensure a familiar Impact Wrestling for hardcore fans?
Dixie Carter: I think it’s a little bit of both quite honestly. The momentum we had in New York for those shows this past year we want to continue that on and kick it up a notch. We got some surprises planned and we’ve got some changes planned. You won’t see it as much at the live shows but there’s only so much you can do with a live television production. The shows afterwards you are going to start to see a transformation of some new technologies that we are going to use. From new productions and some new and exciting ways in which we want to showcase the show. Things we have talked about for a long time, but quite honestly, technology wasn’t where we needed it to be to fit in to how we have to shoot a wrestling show. I am really, really excited for things to start taking shape in the coming weeks.
Mike Chiari: With TNA announcing that Lockdown will air of Destination America rather than pay-per-view there’s been some speculation that the company might be getting out of the pay-per-view business. What’s the plan for TNA as it relates to PPVs moving forward?
Dixie Carter: We will still have several live ones a year, but when we have them they will mean something and be worth people’s hard earned money. I think that the creative team really wanted to start the year off with a bang and something special on the network. So we decided to take the Lockdown theme live and free on Destination America. I was supportive of that and we will have a couple of live pay-per-views a year and then we will still do some of the One Night Only specials that have been really successful for us.
Brandon Galvin: TNA has been doing a lot of shows in recent months in New York and is opening the year there as well before heading on an international tour. Is there a touring schedule in place for TNA beyond January or is New York expected to be TNA’s new home location?
Dixie Carter: We will be looking at some different places to shoot television. We will be going back on the road and doing house shows once we feel like we have the Impact show where we want it to be. Then work on getting the tour where we want it to be and give some of our markets time to breathe. More importantly, our focus needs to go on what we are going to do on our show to make Impact that much more special. That’s really where our time and attention has been, but we will be filming television in some different places through the year and hopefully maintaining that rowdy, small, intimate kind of backdrop where the fans are a really big part of our show.
Donald Wood: Last time we spoke to you, you had just been put through a table by Bully Ray and were dealing with a broken back. How has the recovery been and when can fans expect Dixie Carter back on television?
Dixie Carter: I am doing much better actually. It was painful, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I felt it was the least I could do for everything the talent has given me and to our fans and what the fans have given me, that was the least I could do. It was a small way of showing my appreciation for the hard work everybody puts in on a week in, week out basis. As far as when I’m coming back, I don’t know. The only reason I did that angle was really to help build up everybody. Everybody looks at it as a Bully Ray angle, but that angle really built up EC3, Magnus, Rock Star Spud and a lot of other characters that got to come in and out of it. That was the purpose of me doing it. If there is a need down the road, I would consider it. Right now there is a lot of things on my plate right now that I am focused on.
Mike Chiari: Speaking of Bully Ray, he’s obviously been a huge part of TNA over the years, but he’s not currently listed as part of the active roster. Firstly, what is Bully’s current status with TNA? And also, are there any plans to bring him back and sign him to a new deal if you haven’t already?
Dixie Carter: I would love to have Bully back. I think that his contract has just expired and like many of them, we are in the process of reviewing those, picking up options, and renegotiating new ones depending upon what kind of contracts people have. He has been the corner stone of our top, top story lines for the last several years. This contract comes at the perfect time to give him a little bit of a breath and a breather. There are very few people in our business that are as good and talented as he is and I definitely hope to see him back.
Brandon Galvin: There’s currently a great deal of talent on the independent scene. Do you envision sticking with the current core roster before bringing in other talent or would you like to bring in new faces sooner than later?
Dixie Carter: I think it’s going to be a combination of everything. We have a mean and lean talent roster right now and I am very excited for them to get this opportunity of being exposed with these replays and the Unlocked show and different ways then they have in the past. We maintain a big focus on younger talent and how we can continue to break in new faces, which is the thing I’m most proud of, that we have done in the last 12-18 months. We just need to continue that. We are always looking for somebody that could possibly be a game changer. Bringing one established talent in just freshens up your ability to have matches with 10 or 12 other people that are on our roster. So we are always looking to do both of those things.