TNA leaves Orlando, visits Tampa (Part 1)

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

TNA Wrestling taped its final scheduled shows from the Impact Zone at Universal Studios Orlando in March, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the positive working relationship between the two ended.

TNA Impact Wrestling (8 p.m. EST Thursdays, Spike TV) is no longer emanating from the Impact Zone as the company took the next step in its evolution, currently traveling to a different host city each week for its flagship broadcast.

Since 2004, the Impact Zone housed TNA television (live and taped). With locals and Universal Studios theme park visitors, TNA Wrestling built a solid fanbase, which produced a very strong following from the United Kingdom. Whether it was David Penzer or Jeremy Borash prepping the crowd before a taping, when either called out the UK, a roar erupted from the audience.

TNA made its own noise with its formation in 2002, airing weekly pay-per-views from the Asylum in Nashville. Quite the contrast for a start-up wrestling company, it’s Bizarro World approach garnered many detractors. Still, Jeff and Jerry Jarrett and Bob Ryder persevered, proving right and the naysayers wrong.

Bumps along the way existed, but each time the company maneuvered around or through it, surviving. Landing weekly television via FOX Sports Net, moving to Universal Studios Orlando, signing with Spike TV steadied its progress, but the biggest announcement occurred when Dixie Carter joined the organization.

With Carter’s background in marketing, promotions and entertainment coupled with the financial backing from the family business, she saved the company, and TNA continued its climb. When showing live on Monday nights did not work, Carter and Spike TV opted to take one step back over the short term, rather than stubbornly let ego and pride quicksand the company long term.

The addition of Hulk Hogan created quite a buzz, generating some mainstream appeal/publicity.

New stars emerged like AJ Styles, James Storm, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, Matt Morgan, Amazing Red, Abyss, Kazarian and Christopher Daniels. Established talent like Kurt Angle, Sting, Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Mr. Anderson, Chavo Guerrero Jr., referee Earl Hebner and the Dudley Boys/Team 3D added credability. The emergence of the TNA Knockouts with Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, Tara, Mickie James, ODB, Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, Madison Rayne, Christy Hemme, So Cal Val and Sarita proved women can wrestle and draw ratings.

Brodcasters Mike Tenay, Jeremy Borash, Don West and Taz bridged the action from the ring (six-sided or four) to fans watching at home. The all-important creative mindset included Bruce Prichard, Terry Taylor, Dutch Mantel, Simon Diamond, Vince Russo, Al Snow and D-Lo Brown .

TNA is the second largest wrestling promotion in the world, reaching more than 1-million viewers in the United States and producing programming for more than 120 countries. TNA brought Impact Wrestling to the UK where it celebrated record-setting attendance and financial prosperity.

TNA’s roster showcases a diverse mix with veteran stars, those in their prime and talented up-n-comers. The TNA Knockouts Division proves girls can wrestle.

What’s next for TNA?

The sky is still the limit.

TNA spent three days at the Impact Zone at Universal Studios Orlando filming One Night Only pay-per-views, each representing its own theme. When the final match ended, and the combatants returned to the back, the company piped “Happy Trails” through the speakers as Jeremy Borash thanked fans and said good-bye

Will TNA ever return to the Impact Zone?

Never say never.

During those last scheduled TNA Wrestling shows at Universal Studios Orlando, some who work in front of the camera and others who do their best behind the scenes share their memories of the Impact Zone at Universal Studios Orlando and more.

YouTube (Jim Varsallone the jimmyv3 channel) video interview with the new TNA Impact Wrestling champ Bully Ray, president of Aces & Eights.

Bully Ray proved he is not only a successful tag team wrestler but can also achieve top status in the singles’ ranks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PIWWBgFyyg

YouTube (Jim Varsallone the jimmyv3 channel) video interview with TNA Audience Recruiter Gene Magee who works for Universal Studios Orlando

With a positive attitude, Gene Magee is outstanding at what he does.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR9UUrOtbGM

YouTube (Jim Varsallone the jimmyv3 channel) video interview with TNA Vice President of Marketing Mike Weber, a veteran in the business who worked for WCW and WWF

Experience is something Mike Weber has, working well with major wrestling companies including WCW, WWE and currently TNA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Umh0ZkMyhaA

YouTube (Jim Varsallone the jimmyv3 channel) video interview with TNA Knockout So Cal Val who is a Central Florida local

The lovely So Cal Val is a longtime member of TNA Wrestling, wearing several hats.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIpECE37neg

• TNA Impact Wrestling in Tampa in May

TNA will return to Central Florida but on the west side of I-4 when Impact Wrestling broadcasts live on Thursday, May 23 at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa. Bell time is 7 p.m. EST with television at 8 p.m. EST.

Tickets, starting at $15, are available via TicketMaster online www.ticketmaster.com, TicketMaster outlets or by phone 800-745-3000. To avoid some service fees, you can purchase tickets directly at the arena, but check with the arena for availability and hours of operation.

•  TNA One Night Only PPV

Two dozen of the biggest names in wrestling count on a whole lot of fight and a little bit of luck as they compete for a $100,000 grand prize as TNA Wrestling presents One Night Only: Joker’s Wild, a pay-per-view event hosted by Jeremy Borash and Christy Hemme that is available throughout May for $14.95.

The Joker’s Wild lineup features a who’s who of TNA Wrestling’s past, present and future. Former TNA champs such as The Cowboy James Storm, The It Factor Bobby Roode, The Samoan Submission Machine Samoa Joe, Mr. Anderson of Aces & Eights and Rob Van Dam jump into the fray alongside ring veterans Christopher Daniels, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Devon of Aces & Eights, Al Snow and Doug Williams, as well as talented newcomers like Gunner, Crimson, Joey Ryan and more.

The Joker’s Wild format pairs TNA superstars in randomly drawn tag teams, facing off with another team in a series of six matches. The winning teams from those six matches will then be entered in a 12-man Gauntlet Match, with the last man standing taking home $100,000.

The complete roster for Joker’s Wild includes James Storm, Christian York, Gunner, Crimson, Jessie Godderz, Mr. Anderson, Doug Williams, Kid Kash, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Rob Van Dam, Robbie E, Zema Ion, Joseph Park, Hernandez, Alex Silva, Devon, D.O.C., Rob Terry, Matt Morgan, Joey Ryan, Al Snow and Bobby Roode.

Contact your cable or satellite television provider for complete details.

•  TNA Impact Wrestling on Spike TV

TNA Impact Wrestling is 8 p.m. EST Thursdays on Spike TV. Visit http://www.impactwrestling.com/.

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