Continued ratings slide spells trouble for TNA

As you may have read on the dirtsheets, TNA’s ratings for iMPACT! continue to slide. This week’s show only drew a 0.6 rating, while Raw pulled a 3.7.

I know it’s not fair to compare the two shows, since WWE has a strong Monday night following and has been in that spot for 17 years. But TNA knew what they were getting into. No one is expecting them to beat “the guys up north” right away but continuing to lose viewers is a bad sign.

And please don’t give me the “these numbers aren’t fair because of DVR” sob story. Advertisers don’t care about DVR numbers, they care about who is watching without the ability to fast forward through their commercials. In turn, that’s what the networks also care about.

The sad part is that TNA has put on two strong broadcasts in the last two weeks. There are still bad parts, most noticeably the presence of Bubba the Love Sponge, but things are improving from a storyline progression standpoint.

Despite being up against Raw the night after WrestleMania and airing a taped show, this is scary news for TNA. Next week, the program is scheduled to start an hour earlier at 8pm, which TNA claims is to avoid a battle with the NCAA Championship game.

I think moving the show permanently to an 8 o’clock start time should be given heavy consideration, though. It will give them an hour to hype the second half of the show and try to grab viewers away from Raw by keeping them hooked. Whether they could do that or not is another story, but it’s worth a shot.

At this point, that or a return to Thursday nights with TNA’s tail between its proverbial legs might be the only options.

TNA delivers another strong iMPACT!

I’ll get this out in the open right off the bat: I didn’t watch as much of this week’s iMPACT! as I should have. Sadly, I am without a DVR, so I only caught bits and pieces of the show, even though it looked like it was going to be a good one from reading the spoilers. That said, here are my thoughts on last night’s program.

– The bit with Hulk Hogan and Jay Lethal had its moments and that whole scenario was way overdue. How do you have a character doing a Macho Man gimmick and not stick him with Hogan for a MegaPowers bit earlier?

– It’s almost old hat to say it at this point but TNA has something special in D’Angelo Dinero. His mic skills are top notch and his ring work has always been solid. There was certainly a lot of “tawdry” stuff on display during his promo, but it was a good performance.
Continue Reading

WWE Raw: The Heartbreak Kid says goodbye

The focal point of Monday Night Raw was Shawn Michaels’ farewell after his storied career came to an end the night before at WrestleMania XXVI. Montages of some of HBK’s finest moments were shown all night and he finally came to the ring in the final segment.

Michaels’ speech was heartfelt and emotional. Many women in the crowd were shown bawling and HBK himself had a few tears coming down.

He spoke of many doubting the legitimacy of retirement matches in wrestling but said that he would do everything he could to stay true to the Undertaker and to the fans, in a veiled shot at Ric Flair.

Michaels thanked Triple H for being a friend when no one else wanted to be around him and Vince McMahon for putting up with him when he had a bad attitude. In between those two, he thanked Bret Hart for forgiving Michaels for his part in the Montreal Screwjob. Earlier in the show, Hart had congratulated HBK on a great career, calling him not only the best performer he’s ever been in the ring with, but one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.

HBK’s farewell certainly seems legitimate but we can all assume that Vince McMahon will call on him in the future to play some role. Whether Michaels accepts is another question. If it is truly the end, I agree with Bret Hart: Shawn Michaels is one of the best there ever was.
Continue Reading

WrestleMania XXVI match-by-match recap

WWE delivered a solid show with WrestleMania XXVI. Chris Jericho retained his title while John Cena became the new WWE Champion. Jack Swagger surprisingly pulled down the briefcase to become Mr. Money in the Bank and The Undertaker retired Shawn Michaels. Below is a match-by-match look at the card.

The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels in a No-DQ, No-Countout Streak v. Career Match
It isn’t often when a match as hyped as this lives up to the talk. But the rematch between HBK and ‘Taker certainly did. I don’t know if it was as good as their original encounter at WrestleMania XXV but it was definitely the match of the night.

The Undertaker suffered a kayfabe leg injury early in the match, which allowed even more for the possibility of Shawn Michaels ending the streak. Michaels was tombstoned on the outside of the ring and then kicked out of another tombstone in the ring. After Undertaker yelled at Michaels to stay down, HBK gave him his own trademark throat slash gesture, which incensed the Undertaker, who then delivered a jumping tombstone for the victory after about 23 minutes.

After the match, Undertaker and Michaels embraced, and the crowd chanted for HBK as he saluted them, walking up the ramp with tears in his eyes. I doubt this is really goodbye for Michaels, but he will almost certainly not wrestle until at least SummerSlam. Even then, he’ll be on more of a limited, big time appearance schedule.
Continue Reading

WWE WrestleMania XXVI preview and predictions

The biggest spectacle in professional wrestling, WrestleMania, is just two days away. WrestleMania XXVI airs live on pay-per-view this Sunday, starting at 7pm EST. The build for the show has been great and this is one of the better overall cards in recent ‘Mania history.

Below is a preview and predictions for the 10-match event. Leave your own picks in the comments section!

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Edge v. Chris Jericho (C)

Edge pretty much has to win this match based on the way he stormed back at the Royal Rumble. But the build for this has had Edge coming out on top in most of the interactions between he and Jericho, making me think Y2J could keep the belt and extend the feud. Since I have to pick, though, I’ll go with Edge becoming the new champ.

Streak v. Career Match
Must win by pinfall or submission
The Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels

As much as the outcome of this match is obvious, I wouldn’t be shocked to see ‘Taker’s streak end at the hands of The Heartbreak Kid. But we all know Michaels is going to take his usual summer vacation from the ‘E, meaning The Undertaker‘s streak lives on. WWE’s Creative Team has done a nice job of making us believe it could be otherwise, though.
Continue Reading

3.22.10 Raw: No frills, just solid ‘Mania build

WWE continued full speed ahead on the Road to WrestleMania, doing a basically by-the-numbers show that whet everyone’s appetite for the “Granddaddy of Them All” this Sunday. There were no twists, surprises or huge moments, just furthering of already solid plots.

– The show opened with Shawn Michaels oozing confidence about his upcoming retirement match with The Undertaker, followed by a video package of HBK’s career presumably prepared by ‘Taker that ended with the text, “Shawn Michaels’ Career, 1985-2010.”

I didn’t know that The Deadman was into video editing in his spare time.

The meaning of the whole scene, though, was to again illustrate that HBK isn’t afraid of The Undertaker. That point was made again later in the show during Michaels’ match with Kane. The lights went out and the familiar gong sounded and when the lights came back up, Undertaker was in the ring and choke slammed HBK. The lights went down and when they came back this time, Kane was in the ring again. But Michaels kicked out and ended up with the victory over the Big Red Monster, showing once again that HBK can outplay ‘Taker.
Continue Reading

TNA puts on a good show with 3.22.10 iMPACT!

Aside from an annoying opening segment, TNA put on a pretty good show Monday night. Of course it had its low points, but you could see there was more direction in this show and that is something that has been severely lacking in the past.

– The opening scene of Eric Bischoff certainly looked cool, with him playing a guitar with only the spotlight cast upon him in the ring. Clearly this was not actually Bischoff playing, but the image was still cool.

The problem I have with it, though, is that TNA was just coming off a pay-per-view with a confusing ending that had a lot of people thinking, “Here we go again.” So how do they try to get some momentum back? By continuing an angle that no one really cares about.

Jarrett came out, only to have Bischoff challenge him to play the guitar and, after some back-and-forth, we got the inevitable guitar shot to the head of Eric Bischoff. This went on for what seemed like forever and, to make matters worse, Bischoff was still lying in the ring when the show came back from commercial.

As this dragged on, Bischoff ordered a match between his two tormentors, Jeff Jarrett and Mick Foley, where the loser left TNA and the winner “becomes my bitch.” Oy.
Continue Reading

Thoughts on Money in the Bank match now including 10 participants

Michael Cole announced during the broadcast of WWE Superstars that the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania will now feature 10 participants. One of those will be revealed (if you haven’t read the spoilers already) tonight on Smackdown and the final contestant will be determined on this Monday’s Raw.

The obvious choice would be Kofi Kingston. He has nothing lined up for ‘Mania and put on a nice performance in last year’s MITB contest.

But I could also see WWE’s creative team going in a different direction, giving the final spot to one of Cody Rhodes or Ted DiBiase, freeing up the other man to go one-on-one with Randy Orton in a WrestleMania singles match.

If I had to bet on it, I’d pick Kofi as the final man, but the Rhodes-DiBiase idea is an interesting tidbit to chew on while we wait for Monday night to get here.

A lot of people are complaining that there will be 10 wrestlers in the MITB match, but I don’t mind. It’s always a spotfest anyway, so why not toss a few more guys in there? It doesn’t say much for WWE’s creative plans, since they’re likely amending this match at the last minute, but we’ll see what happens.

Ratings for iMPACT! and Raw both down

The ratings are in for both TNA iMPACT! and WWE Raw and both are disappointing for their respective companies.

WWE did a 3.4 rating, down from the previous week’s 3.7, while TNA pulled a 1.0, down from last Thursday’s 1.1 number.

For TNA, this is a discouraging development. Doing a 1.0 on a show that was huge for the company is not a good thing, especially with all the surprises they had. The WWE number does indicate that TNA perhaps pulled some viewers away from Raw and toward iMPACT! though, so that’s an encouraging sign.

It does say something, though, when TNA’s big night drew a number only .2 higher than WWE’s “D” show, Superstars, usually does.

Comparing Monday’s Raw and iMPACT! shows

It was an exciting time to be a wrestling fan last night, as we were all flipping back-and-forth between Raw and iMPACT!

Many people are upset that WWE didn’t step its game up with new opposition coming to Monday nights. That was to be expected, though. Until TNA is actually a threat to WWE, McMahon and Co. will do nothing differently.

The Twitterverse is dead-set that TNA won last night’s “war.” This may be true in terms of entertainment value, but the fact is that ratings are all that matters, not trending topics. That said, TNA shouldn’t expect to pull a 3.5 for last night’s iMPACT! A 1.5 or better would be all they should be hoping for, which would be a success.

Next week, for instance, TNA will be airing a taped iMPACT! while WWE will have a live Raw featuring “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as guest host and matches of Triple H v. Randy Orton and Chris Jericho v. Shawn Michaels, as well as a contract signing between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon moderated by Austin.

While we wait for the ratings, let’s talk about last night’s Raw and iMPACT!, respectively. TNA offered a few positives, like showcasing the X Division a little bit and the debut of Rob Van Dam, as well as the return of Jeff Hardy. There were many, many negatives, though, like anything involving Bubba the Love Sponge, setting up a Sting v. Hogan angle, and watching Hogan and Flair lumber around the ring.

The only positives on Raw, though, were the solid mic work by Undertaker, HBK and HHH, as well as the build for ‘Mania. It was once again a show light on wrestling, with not a lot of interesting stuff going on.

When it comes down to it, I’ll give iMPACT! the entertainment victory. That really isn’t saying much, though, since Raw was a far-below-par show.