By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Fans (myself included) have been predicting TNA Impact Wrestling's demise for years, yet somehow, they have persevered and stayed alive. They might be a wreck financially, but their televsion product has been the best its been in close to four years. They have switched nights and networks countless times in recent years, but they have really settled in nicely on Pop TV in the Tuesday night slot since the start of the year (although I'd reckon to guess they'll be on the move once again with SmackDown switching to Tuesdays this July).
At any rate, longtime detractors of TNA have yet to give the product a second chance despite its recent resurgence. That is completely understandable given TNA's track record of have a strong streak of above-average shows only to return to the status quo before long, but that hasn't the case thus far. Instead of criticizing the company, fans should be tuning in on Tuesday nights to see what all the buzz is about.
1. A Well-Established Main Event Scene
The main event of the upcoming Slammiversary pay-per-view will see Drew Galloway defend the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Lashley, though The Destroyer isn't the only guy gunning for the gold at the moment. Since capturing his first TNA title three months ago, Galloway has defended against all-comers, most of whom being worthy challengers to the championship.
From Matt Hardy to Jeff Hardy to Tyrus to Ethan Carter III to Mike Bennett, there are several wrestlers waiting in the wings for their shot at the prestigious prize. TNA isn't relying on the same tired talents to carry their show, making the main event scene stacked for the first time in a great while.
2. All the Tools For a Strong X-Division
Similar to what the Crusierweight division was to WCW, the X-Division has been TNA's claim to fame since the birth of the company in 2002. It was what made it different than WWE early on and a true alternative to their product with stars such as Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels emerging as top-tier talent from the X-Division. Somewhere along the way, the once-prominent division lost its luster, and it's been reduced to nearly nothing in recent years. TNA seemingly tries to resurrect it at least once every year, but to no avail.
That said, all the puzzle pieces are place for them to build a strong X-Division. Independent standout Trevor Lee can be exceptional at the helm of the division, but he needs more character development. Eddie Edwards, DJ Z and Andrew Everett are strong supporting characters as well, but with a little more storyline support, the division can return to its former glory.
3. Compelling Stories
As excellent as the in-ring action is in TNA right now, it's the compelling stories that keep me invested in their programming. Compare the pending Slammiversary event to last year's installment. In 2015, TNA completely neglected the event and waited until days prior to the pay-per-view to confirm the main event: a King of the Mountain match featuring the returning Jeff Jarrett, and yes, the match was won by the TNA founder. The rest of the show wasn't much better, and thus, virtually no one cared about the card. It was sad to see TNA give up so easily on one of their only remaining pay-per-view events.
This year is a completely different story. As of this writing, five matches have been confirmed for the card, and other than the throwaway tag team title match, the rest of the event looks very promising. Drew Galloway vs. Lashley has been built up very well over the past two months. Maria and Gail Kim have been at odds since Maria's arrival in TNA. The storied rivalry between Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy speaks for itself. Ethan Carter III and Mike Bennett have been the best things going in TNA for months as EC3 looks to avenge his only pinfall loss ever to Bennett. This is undoubtedly the most excited I've been for a TNA pay-per-view in years, all due thanks to the fantastic feuds that will be featured.
4. Strong Focus on Younger Talent
While WWE is currently in the midst of their "New Era," TNA has had something of a youth movement going on as of late as well. Yes, I am well aware that Jeff and Matt Hardy are feuding right now, but other than them, the top of the card is filled with fresh faces. Drew Galloway and Lashley aren't exactly up-and-coming athletes, and they are notable names from WWE, but TNA is making stars out of them when WWE didn't. The same can be said for Ethan Carter III, who has been TNA's biggest success story since 2013. Isn't it hard to believe he was once Derrick Bateman? He went undefeated in singles competition in TNA for two and a half years before being beaten just last month. That's how you build a star.
His adversary, Mike Bennett, has also flourished since his debut in TNA. In a matter of months, he has solidified himself as a star on the rise with wins over former world champions EC3, Galloway and Storm. He should be in possession of the top title before long as well. For years, TNA was made fun of (and rightfully so) for putting Kurt Angle, Sting, Kevin Nash and other old-timers in the spotlight. Now, they're finally focusing on the future, wrestlers they can build their company around. Better late than never, I guess.
5. Every Episode Has Something to Offer
TNA does something better than just about any other promotion right now: advertising matches and segments in advance. And no, not that same day via a one hour pre-show or on their website. They will hype world title matches and noteworthy segments at least one week ahead of time. It's such a simple tactic, but it gives viewers an incentive to tune in as opposed to finding out at the start of the show what's on tap for the night. Of course, the one advantage TNA has over WWE is that they tape their shows weeks (and sometimes months) in advance (which can also be a detriment), so they don't have to worry about wrestlers getting hurt and having to change their plans.
At any rate, it seems as if each episode has something to offer. Whether it be a title match or a marquee main event, I haven't walked away from a show yet that felt like a waste of time. Each edition of Impact Wrestling is entertaining in its own way, so if you're one of those fans that hasn't watched in a while, you're bound to find something you like.
SEE ALSO: "TNA Impact Wrestling Review - May 31, 2016"