So, as expected, TNA announced Monday that it would be moving Impact to Monday nights, head to head against WWE’s ratings juggernaut, Monday Night Wars, from 9 to 11 p.m. The show will be live every other week.
I like to give TNA a hard time as much as the next guy, and it’s usually well deserved, but this announcement really does speak to the undeniable success that the company has found in its eight years of existence. What they do with this opportunity remains to be seen. Re-igniting the Monday Night Wars is quite a gamble for TNA. The company has drawn respectable ratings flying under the radar on Spike TV on Thursday nights. While it’s true that WWE and WCW both true their highest ratings when they went up against each other – and that Impact drew its highest ratings ever for its Monday, January 4 special – TNA may be in for a rude awakening once its makes Monday night its permanent home. If forced to choose between WWE and TNA, I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of wrestling fans would choose WWE.
That’s in large part because TNA has not done enough to differentiate itself from WWE. But, little by little, the new Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff regime has been making some improvements, and while it may never beat WWE in a head-to-head ratings battle, over time TNA could grow its audience to take a sizable chunk of WWE’s audience.
It may sound cliché, but it’s true that, ultimately, the winners are the fans. WWE was putting on its best product when it was facing competition from WCW, and has often stagnated since all but monopolizing the wrestling industry nine years ago. I think it will be a while before WWE truly considers TNA competition, but, in the interim, I wouldn’t be surprised to see WWE take small steps to protect its Monday night viewership. That may mean a couple extra minutes for an awesome Shawn Michaels match, and a few less minutes for the next edition of Little People’s Court.