Inside the Impact Zone
After attending the TNA Impact taping tonight at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., I now understand why the crowd at the Impact Zone is always so enthusiastic. No, it's not because the fans who demonstrate the most spirit are selected to go backstage -- although I'm sure that doesn't hurt. It's because the taping is a fun experience.
It's been a while since I've been to a wrestling show in an intimate setting -- the Impact Zone actually seems bigger on television than it does in person -- and I forgot how a small but hot crowd can sometimes create a better atmosphere than a luke-warm crowd at a sold-out arena. One thing is certain: the people at the Impact Zone are very passionate about the product, and their enthusiam is contagious.
As has been the case with Impact for several weeks now, tonight's show was all about in-ring action and promos, with the backstage vignettes and comedy skits kept to a minimum.
I don't want to get too much into specifics about the show, as it won't air until Thursday and I don't usually write spoilers. I will say that Matt Morgan came across as someone with major star potential, and Sting got the biggest pop of the night.
Before the show, I had an opportunity to conduct sit-down interviews backstage with Kurt Angle, Gail Kim, Robert Roode, Rhino and Kevin Nash. Yes, I said Kevin Nash. Even though I had a bad experience with him when I was the editor of WCW Magazine -- and I've been critical of him in this blog -- he couldn't have been any nicer. I sort of feel guilty now for being so tough on him. I will begin posting the Q&A's after I get back to Baltimore next week.
I also got the chance to meet up with some people from WCW that I haven't seen since the company was purchased by WWE seven years ago, including Scott Steiner, Jeff Jarrett, Mike Tenay and Jeremy Borash. It was great to catch up with them, and I also had the pleasure of meeting TNA owner Dixie Carter. She doesn't appear on television, but she is very visible at the Impact Zone before the taping begins, talking to fans and shaking hands.
When she came over to me and asked who I was, I told her my name and where I was from. She smiled and said, "Oh, I know you. I read your stuff." That caught me off guard, since much of what I have written about TNA hasn't been positive. The best reponse I could muster was, "Oh, really. That's great." When I saw her after the show, I ran into her again and she thanked me for coming and shook my hand. This time, I said, "You read my stuff, and you're still smiling and shaking my hand?" She said, "Well, there's been one or two that I didn't care for."
Overall, it was a good first night in Orlando. I want to thank Ross Forman of TNA for setting up the interviews and being so helpful. The only glitch on the trip so far -- and it's a pretty big one -- is that the hotel that I'm staying in lost Internet access tonight, and I was told that there's a chance it could be down all weekend. It's a minor miracle that I was able to post this. Hopefully, the problem will be resolved tomorrow. If not, I'll keep my fingers crossed for another miracle.