Thursday, February 2, 2012

Guest Post: Why TNA Doesn't Fit in Orlando

Mike Lortz, aka Jordi Scrubbings, has written before for TWB, and he'll probably write again (he's more than welcome here). As a resident of Central Florida, he's got the catbird's view of Impact Wrestling and their presence in their home base. Here are his thoughts as to why it shouldn't be their home arena anymore.

Not that big a deal anymore to Central FL
Photo Credit:
TH posted an interesting article recently about Impact’s crowd problem in Orlando. As a Florida wrestling fan, I couldn’t agree more that Universal City Walk is no longer the best place for Impact Wrestling. Here are 5 reasons why Impact should take its show on the road permanently.
  1. Orlando is a saturated market. Central Florida is a pro wrestling fan’s mecca. Seeing pro wrestling of any level isn't big news in Florida. There are no less than 10 wrestling federations spanning the I-4 corridor from Orlando to Tampa. Short of Wed, there is wrestling every day of the week in FL, whether on TV or in person. There is RAW to watch on Monday, Impact taping in Orlando on Tuesday, FCW in Tampa on Thursday, Smackdown to watch on Friday, several indy shows on Saturday, and a couple of indy shows on Sunday. Fans don’t have the energy to be hyped for every show.
  2. Orlando area wrestling fans are spoiled. Back in day, seeing Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and other greats was a big deal. They only wrestled on occasion at certain big events. That manor of booking and storylines kept the marquee names fresh. Today, Hulk Hogan is nothing special to Central Florida fans. If they aren’t seeing him in the Clearwater area, they are seeing him on commercials, or at Impact every week. Same with the dozens of other big names at Impact. There is no draw power.
  3. Most of the wrestlers live locally, so there is little motivation to hustle. So many of the talent at Impact looks flat. Maybe they aren’t hungry.
  4. The show is free. While free is great for the wallet, there is not the motivation for fans to put as enthusiasm or emotion into a show fans spend their hard earned money on. I can’t guarantee this, but I think fans are more likely to cheer when they have a financial investment in the event.
  5. No one goes to events in Florida. I’m a huge Rays fan and as much as I hate to say this, it’s true. Floridians just don’t go to sporting events. They only pack special events such as Super Bowls and All-Star Games or bowl games. There are several theories on this, from the economy to Southern attitudes to the notion that there is too much entertainment in Florida. Whatever the case, Floridians don’t get hyped over events like people in other regional areas.
  6. No local attachment - Back in the days of Dusty Rhodes, wrestling in Florida was branded as such. It was Championship Wrestling of FLORIDA. Fans associated with the wrestlers and, more importantly, the organization. It represented their state. Impact, on the other hand, suffers locally from its generic name. "Impact" doesn't associate with anywhere, even if a majority of the wrestlers live in Florida. Florida wrestling fans have to share the Impact brand with the world, even though they are the fan representatives of the brand.

    Granted, other Florida-attached organizations such as FCW and the minor league baseball teams don't draw based on civic pride, but these
    are feeder organizations. Although the pro sports teams often fail to draw, people are proud to be Orlando Magic fans, Tampa Bay Lightning fans, Miami Dolphin fans, etc. Impact might turn off national or global fans by being the "Florida Wrestling Alliance" or something like that, but as long as they perform predominantly in front of Florida fans, a name change that pulls the local heart strings might not be a bad idea.
Disclaimer: Although I have had numerous invites, I have never been to an Impact show. There are several reasons for this:
  1. Between Afa the Wild Samoan’s WXW, FCW in Tampa, and watching RAW, I’m wrestled out.
  2. Impact just isn’t a big enough draw for me. I’m not a fan of old talent and we all know Impact’s problem with promoting their younger, original talent.
  3. Traffic is a bitch. Driving from Tampa to Orlando between 5-7pm is an hour and a half exercise in frustration. Without a high speed rail or other public transportation to move people quickly and efficiently, Impact fans outside of Orlando have to struggle against gridlock to make a show. Not my idea of fun.