This is a column that I wanted to write a few months ago, but I didn’t have the time to get around to it. However, with the recent debut of Sting as a part of the WWE 2K15 video game lineup and the outpouring of love and support from the WWE Universe regarding his video being played this past Monday night, the ideas behind this column popped back up in my head again… and here we go!
You see, the community of wrestling fans who lurk around the interwebs get a lot of things right about professional wrestling. They adore Daniel Bryan and rightfully so. They think AJ Styles is the best thing going in the independent scene and they’re right. They know that iMPACT Wrestling needs to break free from the tapings in Universal Studios and they couldn’t be more correct. They want more support and promotion for ROH and I fully agree.
However, there is a great deal of factual information that the interwebs just plain gets wrong. And they usually get that information wrong when it comes to iMPACT Wrestling.
Take, for example, the internet’s generally accepted opinion that both Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff did not improve TNA’s business position by joining the company in October 2009. Forget about how you feel or what you think is the truth – let’s look at the raw data.
In the 12-week period leading up to Hogan’s on-screen departure from iMPACT Wrestling (the period starting on Thursday, July 18, 2013 and ending October 3, 2013), the show averaged 1,276,583 viewers each week. For the 12-week period that ends with last night’s episode of the show, iMPACT Wrestling averaged 1,129,000 viewers.
By definition, the show was bringing in more viewers during the 12 weeks that led into Hogan’s departure from the company than in the 12 week period that we just experienced. By definition, more people watched the show while Hogan and Bischoff were employed by the company than after they left. An argument could be made that by expanding the number of weeks included in the analysis that, over time, viewership decreased during the time that these two guys were part of TNA. However, you can also show that over a longer period of time viewership was much larger while the two were on the payroll. Let’s not forget that the most-watched episode of iMPACT Wrestling on Spike TV took place on October 20, 2011 – right towards the middle of the Hogan/Bischoff Era.
Let’s also not forget that during the time that these two men were part of the company, WWE put their Superstars program head-to-head against iMPACT Wrestling in many television markets. The team at TNA not only maintained their viewership against the more well-funded show featuring higher profile “superstars,” but if this competition was considered a “war,” then Superstars would be in the NITRO position because TNA beat WWE and that Superstars went off the air.
Yep, that happened during the time that Hogan and Bischoff were in TNA. You didn’t know that they had any major accomplishments under their belts while in the company? You mean that the wrestling tabloid garbage websites/dirtsheets out there don’t report the factual truth to you when it benefits TNA?
Here’s another totally true fact for you to consider. During their time in the company, iMPACT Wrestling broke two records for viewership on Challenge TV in the United Kingdom by surpassing 300,000 viewers. And don’t go crying about Challenge TV being on free television and WWE’s programs being on a channel that you have to pay for – that was WWE’s decision. And while TNA was bringing in record viewership in the United Kingdom (more than double other wrestling shows on in the market), the wrestling tabloids ran away from these two stories and only published them in passing and/or buried them under larger WWE headlines.
Yes, folks. The wrestling tabloids/dirtsheets buried all of the good news that took place under Hogan and Bischoff’s time in TNA.
But my intent is not to just focus on what the tabloids get wrong about the recent history of iMPACT Wrestling. My larger intent is to single out what many of the wrestling “fans” get wrong about the product. For example, go to any of these “please click on our ads so we can stay open” websites and read the comments after a show like last night’s amazing production from the Manhattan Center. The angry, hate-filled comments are riddled with anti-TNA lies and tabloid-fueled deception. In canvassing several sites today, I’ve read garbage that included how Spike TV executives wanted larger viewership numbers, how the company is definitely going to be thrown off of the channel, how the fans were not into the show, how the viewers at home didn’t like the show, etc.
I think it’s fair to say that any of the larger tabloid websites that allow comments has about 90% negative comments regarding iMPACT Wrestling and then a struggling 10% who are in favor of the product. And that’s being generous to the pro-TNA contingent! But there’s a story buried in those comments that is the story that everyone seems to be missing…
The internet is dead wrong about iMPACT Wrestling.
That’s right. The internet is dead wrong about iMPACT Wrestling. The comments on these websites saying that the company is creating unwatchable shows are largely written by folks who either continue to watch the shows (and thus are an odd form of hypocrite) or don’t watch in the first place (and thus are making comments about a show they know nothing about in the first place). Plus, let’s go back to real numbers for a minute: if everyone who hated TNA in these comments sections or on Twitter or on Facebook represented the real viewing audience, then the show would be off the air. Period. No question about it at all.
Think about it. Even if iMPACT Wrestling averaged just 1,000,000 viewers each week, unless that viewership dropped to 100,000 viewers over several weeks, then the internet can’t be taken seriously when it comes to representing how wrestling fans feel about TNA. Why? Well, if generally 90% of the interweb comments about TNA are negative or doomsday in their nature, then it would be a firm logical conclusion that the show would lose about 90% of its audience – right?
Does that happen? No. Has that ever happened? No. Will that ever happen? No.
And why, you ask? Why do the audiences not decrease when it appears that the entire internet is rooting for TNA’s failure? Well, that’s a simple answer, too.
The internet is wrong about TNA.
Several years ago, Bischoff was interviewed and the issue of the rampant anti-TNA hate was discussed. He suggested that the perpetual and angry naysayers are just a very small fraction of the entire population of wrestling fans. He suggested that these folks had “a myopic, distorted, convoluted view of the world” and he was absolutely right when he said that back in 2011.
And now in 2014, Bischoff is still correct.
To the fans of iMPACT Wrestling – rejoice in last night’s show and the major success that it was for your preferred company. As a fan of professional wrestling, I hope that TNA has many more successes. And for those of you who are in the myopic minority I say this: enjoy the equal footing that the anonymity of the internet gives you while you can still enjoy it. Enjoy the fact that the internet makes your voice equal simply because it’s the internet, not because your opinion has any value. However, we are advancing to an even greater connection between our daily lives and our online presence (hello, social media). Soon, our online opinions will begin to be tied to our offline lives and people will start weighing the value of the words that a person writes on the internet to the life experiences that they have (or don’t have) to make certain judgments. And when that time comes, chances are very strong that your hateful, spiteful opinions will be tossed out after they break from the weight of truth.
When that day comes, folks like me won’t laugh at the myopic minority. Frankly, I don’t care about their online opinions just like I wouldn’t care about their in-person opinions. I’m a wrestling fan – I want all wrestling companies to do well. I even want the ones I don’t watch – like WWE – to do well.
A rising tide lifts all boats, people. Let’s hope that the hatermarks remember that fact so the internet wrestling world can be fun again. But even if they don’t remember that everyone benefits when everyone does well – that’s okay. The coming of an even more socially-connected interweb is going to render their hate irrelevant sooner rather than later.