TNA president Dixie Carter conference call recap: Impact Wrestling format changes, Brooke Hogan joining the company, and more
TNA president Dixie Carter held a media conference call on Wednesday afternoon. The following are the highlights of the call.
-TNA public relations manager Chris Thomas opened the call and hyped the Impact Wrestling time change, going live, TNA Slammiversary, and next year's UK tour.
-TNA president Dixie Carter joined the call and opened things up to calls. She was asked about the company's press release regarding format changes. She referenced the Hulk Hogan backstage segments from last week and said she's more excited about doing that type of segment than anything else. "It's really time for us to take this to another level," Carter said. "It's going to be an evolution... It's something in my opinion that is going to be a very much needed way to watch wrestling."
-Carter was asked about the decision to bring in Brooke Hogan rather than someone such as Fit Finlay. Carter said the Knockouts Division is very important to her. She wants to set a standard that's better than anyone else out there. She spoke about her relationship with Brooke and how she learned from her father. "She's incredibly intelligent and a big star in her own right," Carter said. She stressed that Brooke will not wrestle, and the goal is for Brooke to shine a light on the Knockouts Division.
-Dixie spoke about the company approaching its ten-year anniversary. She said people didn't expect them to last ten weeks and they almost did not. She admitted there have been times when she didn't know if it was going to last. She said they've "made a ton of mistakes" but said it's been a learning process. She said she doesn't feel the company has ever produced the quality of programming as they are now.
-Carter was asked about the company's pay-per-view plans for 2013 and whether they would like to do live specials. Carter said Spike asked them around Thanksgiving last year to expand Impact to three hours. She said they chose quality over quantity. She said they would like to do live specials. Carter said she's not a fan of doing 12 pay-per-views. She said they are currently trying to negotiate existing contracts and hopes there are fewer pay-per-view events next year.
-A caller questioned whether there are plans to go on the road more often. Carter said she would prefer to go live than be on the road, but ultimately she would like to do both. She
-Dixie said the current plan is to run live for 12 weeks, perhaps 13 weeks. She said they would obviously love to get to the point where it becomes the norm.
-A caller asked about how TNA is perceived by WWE. She said to not acknowledge competition is ridiculous. She said competition makes you work harder.
-Carter was asked whether they will tone down elements of the product now that they are airing in an earlier time slot. She said that they are trying to make things as real as possible and some sexual innuendo and things of that nature will come out. She said they have the ability to censor any errant f-bombs or things of that nature should someone slip.
-Dixie was asked whether she has interest in John Morrison, Melina, and other free agents. She said they're looking all the time. She also noted that they enjoy finding new talent.
-A caller asked whether there is any research that shows whether going live leads to better ratings. She said not necessarily, though she thinks going live will help them gain momentum faster in a new time slot. She said going live helps them become more socially interactive. She said she feels Thursday's show will be the most socially interactive show in pro wrestling history and expects to expand going forward.
-Dixie said one of the key things they are trying to do with the new format is to let the talent cut loose. She said wrestling has always been formatted for certain minutes. She said last week fans got to see just a taste of what Hulk Hogan does behind the scenes. She said she gets very defensive when people claim that Hogan is only with the company to get a paycheck. She put over how passionately Hogan is during meetings and even when he appears and he's not paid to be there. She said she feels honored to be in those meetings even as the president of the company and she wants other people to see that side of him. She said the four challengers featured in Hogan's segment were not scripted and they didn't know who was going to be cut or ultimately qualify for the TNA Championship.
-Carter was asked whether there a particular ratings mark or viewership average that she feels they need to reach in order for the live experiment to be considered successful. She said she hasn't really thought about a specific rating or viewership.
-Dixie was asked to comment on Ric Flair and Alex Shelley's status with the company. She declined the comment on where things stand with Flair. She praised Shelley and said the door is always open for his return.
-Dixie noted that she will appear on the show to introduce Brooke Hogan on Thursday and teased another big announcement.
-Regarding the evolution, Carter said Impact Wrestling will not be an entirely new show on Thursday. She said it will evolve over time. "It's going to be a journey and I'm excited by that journey."
-A caller questioned what led to the changes. She said it's based on the way people watch television. She said you don't have to love wrestling to watch Impact. She said they have some of the greatest characters on television and they need to do a better and more unique presentation to allow them to cut loose.
-Carter was asked whether there's been an effort to move away from chairshots to the head or whether it was the wrestlers policing themselves. She said it's a concerted effort on the company's part. "It's my job to protect these guys," Carter said. She added that she takes offense when people say wrestling is fake because she sees the bumps and bruises. She said the research regarding concussions is so conclusive that they had to react accordingly.
-Dixie was asked about her background. She said she's not afraid to admit what she doesn't know about pro wrestling. She praised Bruce Prichard and said she's surrounded herself with good advisers. She said she knows business.
-A caller asked about TNA having a UK based promotion similar to how Ring Ka King was specific to India. "We're working on something as we speak," Carter said. She added that they hope to announce something soon.
-Dixie once again said she would love to go live from here on out. She said she asked Spike TV president Kevin Kay to go live for this stretch and he approved it.
-Carter noted that TNA is a privately held company and will not reveal its pay-per-view buyrate information. She said she sees a lot of false information regarding the buys, but she doesn't feel its worth the time to publicly correct it each time.
-Dixie was asked whether they intend to have more unscripted interviews going forward. "Absolutely, that is the goal," Carter said. She said there will be some of that on tomorrow night's show. She said they will be making a change to the Gut Check panel (presumably a replacement for Ric Flair).
-Carter was asked about how things have changed since Vince Russo left the company. She said she believes he's a brilliant writer, but sometimes a change is needed. "I'm very happy with Vince's contributions to TNA over the years," she said. "He's a very nice man and I wish him nothing but success." She added that it was time to look at the product with fresh eyes.
-A caller asked about how the live crowd isn't always picked up properly on television and whether there will be any production changes to help with that problem. Carter said that happened at the Nashville pay-per-view.
-Dixie said Spike TV has a live show on after Impact, so there will not be substantial overruns in the new time slot.
-Carter was asked who has brought the most to Impact over the last ten years. Carter paused and said that from an iconic standpoint, Sting. From a wrestling perspective, she said no one can touch what Kurt Angle has brought to the show. From a TNA perspective, she said there are so many great originals that are finally coming into their own.
-Dixie was asked to name the one person she would take from WWE. She said The Rock.
-Carter was asked what the ideal number of pay-per-views would be for the company if they are able to renegotiate the pay-per-view contracts. She said she doesn't have an ideal number, but said perhaps six to eight. She said she would also settle for ten at this point. She noted that the pay-per-view events make money and they would have to find other ways to replace that revenue.
-Regarding the departure of Don West, Dixie said it's a heartbreaker because he's a member of the TNA family. She said West has mentored has someone named Jimmy J, who has been going on the road with West.
-Dixie noted that she is open to doing additional conference calls in the future.
-Carter said she hasn't even spoken with Spike about doing additional live shows beyond the 12-week run. She said she wants to focus on each show and doing the best they can. She said such talks will essentially play themselves out.
-Dixie was asked whether there are plans to go live with television shows outside North America. She said there are not at this point.
-She said she hopes that where they end up holding the Bound For Glory pay-per-view will excite people. In other words, it will indeed be going on the road again.
-Dixie praised Bully Ray as a fantastic example of someone reinventing himself and said she's on the list of people who are at the top of their game.
-The final caller asked whether it's time for TNA to open an office in Los Angeles or New York to have a closer relationship with the media in those markets. "It's absolutely a next step for our company," Carter said. She said she would like to do that also in London and elsewhere.
-Dixie said there are no updates on Ring Ka King or All Wheels Wrestling. She said they hope to make an announcement regarding Ring Ka King soon.
-Carter wrapped up the call by talking about how excited she is "with what's happening with our company right now."
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