Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling just surpassed its tenth year in business as a pro wrestling company, one of the only viable alternatives to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), or at least the only one with a national television deal.
It wasn't always that way, of course. For the first couple years of the organization's existence, it only ever offered weekly pay-per-view (PPV) shows. That is until they procured a television deal with Fox Sports Net in May 2004 and it was on this date in TNA history (June 4, 2004) that the first ever episode of Impact Wrestling aired.
Here's a quote from Mike Tenay announcing the deal:
"To put it mildly, the last two years have been an exciting roller coaster ride for everyone involved with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Personally, I feel like we've made great strides in presenting an innovative in-ring product. And because of our success, I'm proud to announce that in addition to our weekly preview show Xplosion and our weekly TNA Pay-Per-Views, that TNA management along with Fox Sports Net and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, will be partnering to bring you 'Impact!' - a new weekly one-hour wrestling show beginning Friday, June the 4 at 3PM on Fox Sports. Get ready for a wrestling program that will not only 'Impact!' professional wrestling, but totally change the face of it forever!"
The roster at that time featured a lot of names you know -- AJ Styles, Abyss, CM Punk, James Storm, Jeff Jarrett, Raven -- and a few you don't, as is mostly the case now. They weren't loaded by any stretch of the imagination but they it wasn't exactly a barren landscape.
Despite this, the ratings were god awful thanks to a terrible time slot on a Friday and Fox Sports Net failed to renew the deal one year later. This led to a brief period where the show was only available via online streaming until they reached a deal with Spike TV in Oct. 2005.
TNA Impact expanded to two hours in Oct. 2007 and aired its first live episode in March 2008. In an ill-fated move that was always destined to fail, the company attempted to recreate the Monday Night Wars by opposing WWE's Raw starting in March 2010. They were buried in the ratings and quickly tucked tail back to Thursday nights in May that same year.
In May 2011, the show was re-branded and named Impact Wrestling with a new color scheme and slogan -- Where Wrestling Matters. They just recently went live for a summer series with the hopes that a permanent switch could be made sometime in the future. And while it's not nearly as successful as Raw for USA, Impact generally averages one million viewers a week for Spike TV, its highest rated show.
After the jump, watch the opening video from that first episode of Impact. Sorry, folks, couldn't find complete video of it for this one.