In what will certainly be one of TNA's biggest business moves of the year, they are set to start taping Impact on a regular basis from outside of their home base of Orlando starting in four week's time. James Caldwell broke the news last Wednesday and suggested that this was TNA's latest big idea to attempt to grow their brand:
PWTorch has learned from TNA sources that TNA will be taking Impact on the road in mid-February.
Over the past year, TNA management has talked about wanting to film TV outside of Orlando, Fla. to "grow the brand" and gauge crowd reactions in locations besides the Impact Zone.
Dixie Carter confirmed by Twitter that TNA would indeed be taping Impact outside of Orlando for the first time in over two years early the next day:
Excited to announce that TNA is taking 'iMPACT!' on the road to Fayetteville, NC on 2/24. More details soon at www.tnawrestling.com
I must admit it's a very wise decision to choose their first non-Orlando taping to be slap bang in the middle of Hardy and Flair country, which should guarantee a decent turnout and a hot crowd.
Soon after, Dave Meltzer gave further details about their scheduled tapings in Fayetteville and confirmed that the ultimate goal was to do this on a monthly basis:
The 2/24 show in Fayetteville will not be a live show, but a taping for 3/3 and 3/10. They will be taping the 2/17 and 2/24 episodes of Impact on 2/14 and 2/15 in Orlando.
The plans right now, depending on how they go, is for them to both do tapings in Orlando and on the road from this point forward, with maybe 8-10 road tapings for the rest of 2011.
Thus, TNA aren't being very wise scheduling the Fayetteville tapings on a Thursday, so all the fans there will be at least one week out of sync with their television storylines.
The online reaction to this move has in general been cautious optimism laced with ominous concerns. Jason Powell thought it was the right move for the onscreen product, but wondered about the cost of this venture:
As a viewer, I think it's great to see the show move to a different environment. My only concern is that it could be a costly to hold the tapings outside the Impact Zone.
Dave Meltzer, on his January 17th, 2011 subscriber only radio show, concurred with Powell that he was glad that TNA were trying this out and thinks it will be a good move, but criticised them for addressing the wrong problems, i.e. the booking of Impact is a bigger issue than the location of their tapings. He went on to explain the motivation for the move being Spike TV executives going to a TNA house show on September 23rd at the Hammerstein Ballroom (yes, the house show where they capitalised on that market's ECW nostalgia), being blown away at the crowd's reaction and wondering why they didn't have this rabid atmosphere for their TV shows. Of course, TNA management felt the jaded, burnt out, Impact Zone fans were to blame. However, I agree with Meltzer that TNA's fans outside of Orlando are unlikely to respond as well to lengthy four hour Impact tapings chock-a-block with convoluted storylines as they do to their typically breezy, down to earth, much easier to follow, house show presentation. It's still a step in the right direction, as Vince Russo will no longer be able to use the atypical Impact Zone fans as a crutch for whenever his booking backfires on a live crowd and maybe will eventually spur on the necessary booking changes TNA needs to implement.