So I have another “Wake-Up Call” offshoot for you. I am constantly developing concepts in my head for my column, which you see from time to time from me. I have decided to lump these into their own series, dubbing them “TNA Originals.” So this new concept will envelope all my exclusive, original concepts I develop for the Wake-Up Call outside of the “Putting the Sport in Sports Entertainment” series (I will get back to that eventually; I promise) or any other large concept that warrants its own series. I have another in mind as I write this too. For this inaugural concept of the “TNA Originals” column, I delve into the potential of utilizing pre-taped shows as a means for storytelling. Please read the entire column before rushing to judgment on the idea.
As you know, the reality of TNA’s TV show is it is filmed in large blocks to fill out a long period of time into the future for Impact. These pre-tapes allow for all the spoilers that are available. However, maybe TNA could take advantage of this fact and use the pre-taped shows to their advantage creatively. In fact, they also use a lot of prepped footage that is filmed after their tapings as well, so using that method and others, TNA could use the pre-taped nature for most episodes of Impact Wrestling in storylines as a means to make things even more intriguing.
You may be asking yourself: How the hell could you use something pre-taped as a means to tell stories in wrestling? It is not the most intuitive idea in the world, but I feel it could make for some interesting stories and events. In order to make it work, everything has to be planned out for taping time of course; TNA or whatever wrestling company could extend storytelling to the online sphere, through YouTube and social media, to properly accentuate the stories. The idea is the pre-taped nature of tapings becomes an acknowledged fact in the storytelling itself, being central to or enhancing elements of a story.
There would need to be various methods used to carry this sort of thing out. Though it probably seems vague at this point, please bare with me. Here are some methods that could be used to carry out some pre-taped story elements. First, live shows would probably be essential to refer back to taped shows, as the live nature of the show centers the timing of events. Second, online media, particularly YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook could be used as great supplementary tools to enhance or extend storytelling outside of the show and work with pre-taped storytelling ideas; they could also act as a timeline centering mechanism during the long blocks of taped shows. Third, injecting vignettes or pre-tapes that are filmed after could be used to disrupt the pre-taped shows. These would be events or promos that are also pre-taped—even at the time of the original taping of the pre-taped shows—that would act as an event that happens after the original tapings in the storyline that is a part of any given story utilizing this conceptual idea. They would be placed at an appropriate point on the pre-taped or even live episodes to tell the desired story. Fourth, pre-taped footage that is saved and used on live shows could also be a way to tell stories under this concept.
There might be other methods you think of that would work for this idea too, but these are what I have come up with thus far. If you are not getting quite what the idea is all about at this point, do not feel bad because it is not so intuitive to think about. Illustrating the idea a bit is necessary. So I have developed a few tropes that could be used in a wide variety of specific stories. I hope these examples make the idea very clear.
This example was the trigger mechanism for this whole idea. I had a sudden thought during some forgotten pre-taped episode of impact in the past. It has been a lingering thought for quite some time. I remember thinking once: What if the powers that be did not like how that event unfolded? Over time, this idea developed in my head. The general set up for this story trope would have to involve a person or group in power that has significant influence with what airs on the show against someone that does not. There would involve a story where a powerful influencer, whether a GM, TNA Management, the Board of Directors, or wrestler that has the ear of such, wants to cover up an event that happened at a TV Taping. Here might be something of an example:
TNA has a GM that is becoming concerned with public image. Over the course of a month or two, the idea is introduced that TNA talent must conduct themselves in a more professional manner, slowly implementing policies about how wrestlers must conduct themselves on the show and when representing the company. Maybe the Knockouts might be required to wear less revealing clothing. Or maybe they ban the use of certain moves matches (Obviously, it should not be the Brogue Kick.). It gets to the point of affecting decorum among the locker room in ridiculous ways. Say any minor criticism of this GM is met with unreasonable fines to the wrestlers to the profit of the GM.
At the tapings, a wrestler cuts an in-ring promo trying to make light of the situation to the public, and of course, the promo is against the rules. It would actually be filmed at the tapings, but it would not actually air on the TV show at the applicable time it should have aired. During the airing of the pre-taped shows, this wrestler that spoke out starts a social media campaign against the censorship of this GM and his or her abuse of power (I know the corrupt GM storyline is played out, but you know this is just presenting an idea, right?). The wrestler eventually interrupts the following live episode to state their claim and try to get the footage aired without success. Maybe thereafter “cell phone” video shot from the audience is leaked online showing parts of the censored promo. And this can carry on as a more proper storyline and eventually culminates at another live taping. Perhaps there are multiple instances of censorship and that storyline will result at the end with the GM getting fired for abuse of power.
Questionable Happenings or Highly Interpretive Events
So I could not just have one example. I obviously need to come up with multiple possibilities for this idea to have any merit. So after I came up with the censorship trope, I came up with more; go figure. One good thing about something being taped is it can be referred back to in a storyline, which of course already happens. But the central tenet of this idea is the pre-taped nature of the shows is actually acknowledged in the stories and actually is extended into kayfabe. However, they do not always have to be central to a story and can simply enhance a story.
This trope is wide-ranging and is not as limited as the censorship idea. It could be used for practically anything, really, from the results of matches to whether a wrestler cheated to simply correcting the record on what someone said in the pre-taped shows. I will use the simplest of scenarios for this example.
Say there is a TNA World Heavyweight Title match on a pre-taped episode that has a questionable finish, particularly resulting in both wrestlers having a reasonable claim for the win and being champion. On the next pre-taped episode, the champ comes out (probably a heel because we know how wrestling works) at the top of the episode and cuts a promo laying claim to the win (pre-taped too). During the dead time following the promo, the announcers chime in explaining that the champ in fact was ruled as the winner, and here is Brian Hebner to explain how the ruling went down. Then, a diagrammatic vignette airs—almost like you see on “Sports Center” or in the middle of a basketball game where they draw on the screen for explanatory purposes—with the referee explaining the decision by the reviewers of the match over who is champion and how they came to that choice. It would be filmed in such a way that it is obvious this vignette was made to aid the audience after the fact of the pre-taped shows. And maybe the events of the pre-taped episode have a few segments that still act like that decision was still under review, but we know in fact as an audience that review had taken place since. And perhaps there are a few other interjected interviews, promos, or vignettes that continue this story almost as a documentary after the fact as the pre-taped show airs. It could be done in many ways with the tools at Creative’s disposal.
Telling Stories Differently/Less Linearly: Narration Example
As wrestling fans, we are used to a simple Point A to Point B timeline of events in the stories we watch on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, many popular movies and television shows these days are often playing around with the linearity of story’s timelines, be they flashbacks, perception regarding characters, beginning with the ending first, or other story telling methodologies. These are the advantages of not filming shows live; the creators can edit the story how they want.
Additionally, with the nature of professional wrestling, shows are shot naturally in a third person format. That point of view is the camera, forcing a certain limited format where we do not know what the characters are specifically thinking and feeling. So this trope example ventures into taking advantage of the nature of pre-taped shows to get into the minds of characters. Specifically, what if a wrestler could narrate his or her version of events?
Say there is a debuting talent on Impact. There is a more typical vignette telling the new talents story earlier in the night before his or her debut match. Maybe there are some brief backstage scenes too along with the debut match. Throughout, there could be some interjecting promos of the talent describing their perspective as they are introduced to the TNA fan base. During the match, there could be a small picture in picture window with the talent narrating how he felt about his performance and the like, among other little things to really allow the fans to get to know the new guy.
I hope the concept is clear to you at this point after reading all of the examples. I could come up with more, but it takes awhile to think them up from scratch. There is a lot of potential to this idea too. Of course, it would further let the cat out of the bag on wrestling, but it would also acknowledge the fact what everyone knows about the pre-taped episodes. Furthermore though, it would make the spoilers a lot less useful, as those stories that are using this idea sort of distorts what you think is happening from the descriptions of what happened at the tapings. I hope you enjoyed the read. Let me know your ideas implementing this concept in the comments; I am very interested in what you come up with.
...Create the Paradigm….