Well, I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend, but with the new year approaching, it seems as though there will be at least some major changes to the wrestling world in 2010. More specifically, TNA’s attempt to recreate the Monday night wars, for one night only. Now, this particular subject is linked to a few others so let’s discuss the general topic of the January 4th showdown before discussing the particulars of each show. First of all, I have to say, it’s a good effort on TNA’s part to try to appear as if they are stepping up to be competition for the WWE, but in reality a one night shot is hardly competition and all things considered, it would seem as though TNA trying to start “Monday night Wars 2” at this stage in the game on a full time basis would be disastrous for the Impact ratings, which have stayed basically the same the past three years despite TNA spending the money to sign various former WWE stars. Along with that, I don’t think that something as influential as the Monday night wars can be set up and planned in advance as TNA is trying to advertise. In my opinion, the original Monday night war was as historic as it was because the timing was right and the right pieces of the puzzle were in the right places. The wrestling boom of the late 90s was something that no one could have predicted in let’s say 1993 so I doubt TNA could spark another ratings war simply by having Impact air on Monday nights. Speaking of the 90s, while TNA has it’s share of next generation themes in their product, it seems as though when it comes to attempt to expand their audience as they will attempt on January 4th, they seem to attempt to target a wrestling audience from 1999 instead of 2009. Obviously, Hogan will have drawing power at least in some form, but the majority of the main stream wrestling audience AKA the “WWE Universe” is a completely different group of fans than the people that watched the WWF/WCW ratings war. Who knows how many of those people still actually watch wrestling? The majority of main stream wrestling fans today are a younger audience that might be too young to even know the details of the Monday Night War and as far as they know the Monday Night Wars are just a segment on WWE 24/7. It’s been rumored that Scott Hall could be returning to TNA on January 4th to be part of a N.W.O reunion with Nash and Hogan, which would be cool for long time fans, but how much of WWE’s core younger audience even knows who Hall is? Or the significance of a N.W.O. reunion? More importantly, how many WWE viewers would change the channel to see an N.W.O. reunion? Essentially, it seems like when TNA tries to expand their audience, they book to draw an audience from ten years ago that barely exist compared to the majority of the main stream audience of today. All that being said, TNA has been improving their product the past few months, which is always a step in the right direction.
I discussed Hogan signing with TNA in a previous column so I’m not going to mention all the details again, but rather compare TNA’s January 4th draw to the WWE’s main draw on the same night. TNA brings you Hulk Hogan’s return to a wrestling program in a few years and the WWE will provide Bret Hart’s return to Raw in twelve years. Now without a doubt, Hogan is a bigger star than Hart, but regardless, the WWE has the major advantage in the situation for many reasons. Most importantly, Hart has made very few wrestling appearances since his retirement from the ring and even less WWE appearances during the past decade, where as Hogan has been in the public eye all too often off the past few years so basically, the WWE has the advantage of the rare public appearance of Bret Hart. Another advantage for the WWE is that Hart is regarded by many fans as someone that has earned a legacy in the ring, which should lead to a major following of what he does during his time in the WWE. Hogan however has been a media circus and who knows if wrestling fans will actually want to cheer someone that has been involved in as much controversy as Hogan? The other major factor I expect to play a major role in this whole scenario is that WWE machine being able to build up and promote everything Hart does while back in the WWE.
In conclusion, I expect January 4th to be a major victory for the WWE because they already have the younger audience watching Raw and then they will have the Bret Hart nostalgic factor to get the older fans to tune into Raw to see a star they haven’t seen on WWE T.V. in years. The bottom line is Bret returning to the WWE after twelve years is something that no one thought they would see and TNA just can’t compete with something as major as Hart’s return to a WWE ring.