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Trying to make sense of TNA's main event booking

You might not know it, but TNA has a pay-per-view (PPV) coming up in a couple of weeks. Dixie Carter's company has largely gotten out of the business of selling live events on television - June 28's Slammiversary is the first one since last October's Bound for Glory, and that was held in Japan, co-promoted with The Great Muta's Wrestle-1 and shown on tape delay in the United States.

The decision to largely ditch PPV was a sound one. The events were money-losers for TNA, costing much more to produce than they brought in and often resulting in bad publicity when they played to empty houses. Rather than spend just to do what WWE does, the story went, the company decided to focus on creating a good weekly televised wrestling show.

Reportedly due to contractual obligations with cable and satellite providers around the globe, TNA still produces pre-taped PPVs, dubbed One Night Onlys, usually around a theme such as tag teams, cruiserweights or women's wrestling. Whether or not airing a couple of live shows a year is part of that commitment is unclear, but for whatever reason, they've kept Slammiversary and Bound for Glory on their calendar as just that.

Despite touting this month's show as a big deal, and partnering with Flipps, the company that Global Force and Ring of Honor have used to bring their PPVs to mobil devices, to ostensibly bring the event to more people, TNA Creative doesn't seem to be booking to Slammiversary as a tentpole event where major showdowns occur or storylines payoff.

While you might not have heard about the PPV, you've probably seen an article or heard a fellow wrestling fan talking about Ethan Carter III. Since signing with TNA after his release from WWE, the former Derek Bateman has grown into a top heel for the Nashville-based promotion, and appears to be the kind of star that, if Impact were built around him, might be able to get the show some desperately needed buzz going among viewers.

That's why some recent booking announcements have fans scratching their heads.

Carter, or EC3 as he's known, is the #1 contender to Kurt Angle's TNA World championship. The two men have history, with the "undefeated" EC3 having injured the former Olympian in story during his rise. So, naturally, that seems like an feud you'd want to climax on a money show, right?

Not for TNA, it seems. The showdown between Carter and Angle for the belt has been announced for July 1, a pre-taped episode of Impact. In the weeks leading up to Slammiversary, they'll be running a gimmick where each man gets to pick who his opponent has to face in their last match before the championship bout. EC3 will battle whoever Kurt picks for him on next week's already taped June 17 episode, and then the champ faces Ethan's selection on June 24.

An episode that will be shown more or less live (with a brief delay) on Destination America. The episode that contains the championship match will be filmed, along with several weeks of fallout from Slammiversary, on June 25 - 27 before the PPV occurs.

For clarity's sake, here's the schedule:

June 17 (already taped): contract signing and EC3 vs. an opponent Angle picks for him
June 24 (live-ish): Angle vs. an opponent EC3 picks for him
June 25 - 27: tapings for July shows, including Angle vs. EC3 for the belt
June 28: Slammiversary
July 1: air the episode with Angle vs. EC3 for the belt

All of these will be shot at Orlando's Universal Studios set, so its not as if they're spending much more that they normally would to put on any of the shows. And I suppose the argument could be made that if wrestling fandom hears there's a title change coming on the July 1 Impact, they'll be more likely to tune in and help TNA pop a number.

But in the meantime, they're also sending a message that Slammiversary isn't a much bigger deal than the average One Night Only, despite its $39.95 suggested price tag.

And when you're a company known more for an LOL meme these days than for great wrestling product, that seems like a dangerous message to send.

Thoughts, Cagesiders?

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