In 2016 it isn’t easy to get booed in the world of pro wrestling. Sometimes fans want to boo the faces, and cheer the heels. Although mostly, fans want to cheer pretty much everyone, because they like pretty much everyone, and respect what they do. To be able to get booed without being overly irritating, or perceived as a “bad wrestler” is a tough task. In all fairness, it is probably a little easier to get the fans in the Impact zone to boo the heels. After all, it isn’t as full of “Smart wrestling fans” as other venues. However, it does present its own challenges. With a lot of the fans in the Impact zone being more casual fans, or not fans beforehand at all, brought in from the park at universal studios. It’s important to create a good first impression on those fans. Wrestlers must quickly show the fans in attendance, what they’re supposed to think of them.
The likes of Eli Drake have almost made an art of this. As mentioned, the man wears a shirt with his face on it. Even from the way he wears the King of the Mountain championship, it has a cocky feel to it. Then you hear the man speak. Eli uses his words, not only to convey a message, but also to instantly put across who his character is, the words convey one thing, while the way he speaks those words conveys another. Eli cuts a fantastic promo, he allows himself to come off as egotistical and like a true heel, overly self-confident – he makes claims he cannot back up. It doesn’t take long for Eli to make his mark. Take a look at the most recent Impact, as of writing this article, the 21st of June. As soon as Eli comes out to cut his promo with Lashley, he very quickly establishes who his character is, and that you should boo him. This is crucial to a show attempting to win more viewers – such as Impact. If someone is flipping channels, and they come across Impact, the characters must make a connection with that person, in order to draw them in. Eli is excellent at quickly giving the viewer a reason, for wanting a baby face to kick his ass.
Talk to some “old-timers” in the wrestling business, and they’ll tell you to be successful in the wrestling industry, you must look legitimate, you must be a big guy, who could win a real fight. However, as time as gone on, the wrestling business has evolved, as has the real world. It’s clear that you don’t have to be a big guy to win a fight. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a place for big, intimidating guys, in wrestling. Drew Galloway, Lashley and Bram, as mentioned before, are three wrestlers on Impact that possess these qualities. Meeting any of those three men in a dark alley, never mind all three, would be enough to send most men running. Again, this can be very important to first time viewers, and of course reoccurring viewers alike. For every Eli Drake, you need the guy who is going to hand him the ass kicking, that the viewer believes he deserves. A guy like Drew Galloway is intimidating; both in his look, the way he speaks and the way he carries himself. Lashley, while some may feel becomes a little less intimidating when he speaks, also possess similar qualities. Bram, Abyss and Tyrus are all also good examples. You don’t want every character on your show to be that way, diversity is good, but sprinkled across the card is good too.
TNA has an array of different types of characters, and having truly different characters is smart. Again, in the conversation about attracting new viewers, having something different, to attract different tastes, seems a no brainer. It’s some of TNA’s most extravagant, or more out of this world characters that make the biggest first impression. If you have never seen Impact before, and you are flicking through channels, it doesn’t matter how they make you feel, you will stop and look at Decay. As much as some hate it, the same is true with Matt Hardy; the dude’s character is crazy, he’s nuts, but that’s the point. You might hate it, but for a lot of people, it’s so bad they can’t turn the channel.
Then the beauty of TNA right now, right after those segments, is probably something completely different. If Impact can capture someone’s attention long enough, and they stay around to see something that they really like, they may be hooked. The way a faction like Decay looks, the way they talk, it’s fantastic, and it’s fascinating. Maybe Decay catches a viewer’s attention, but it’s the X division match that follows that really hooks them. This variety, which includes some very eccentric characters, is key to attracting eye balls to a TV screen.
The wrestlers of TNA have done an excellent job as of late at creating impressions. TNA has some characters that truly jump out of the screen. Every wrestler knows their role, they portray exactly the characters they are meant to portray, and show viewers exactly what they are meant to think of them. This all comes together to help attempt to draw more viewers to Impact. This excellent work will still need to be built upon however. More TV time for different characters, who can draw different viewers in. More merchandise, more promotion on social media, and if it can be done, more television advertisements. TNA has some excellent characters at its disposal. If marketed correctly, many of these characters could be vital at drawing more viewers into Impact.