TNA President Dixie Carter recently spoke with Dave Lagreca and Doug Mortman on the Busted Open radio show. You can listen to Busted Open from 2-4pm EST on Sirius 94, XM 208 and Sportszone 860 online. Here are highlights:
On "Open Fight Night": "I'm excited about where we're gonna go with it. I think it will just continue to get better week after week. I love the concept. As we're continuing to grow our developmental league, this was just a great opportunity for us to take something that we do on an ongoing basis and let the people see it. About six or seven months ago, we were having some guys try out, and somebody was literally going to get a shot at being on the show that night, and a couple of guys really impressed. And two of the guys that were part of that were Anthony Neese and Jesse Sorensen. It was like real-life drama being played out backstage; they were literally fighting for their lives and their match was unbelievable! We were sitting there watching them in this empty arena. It just had such a great vibe to it. So it's just something that we thought people might want to see a real glimpse of what we do. And this is real; these guys are people that we've had our eyes on that we're looking at. And it's a tremendous amount of pressure when that red light goes on to put those nerves in check and get out there and perform like we know those guys can do."
On New Time Slot: "There're more viewers available in that time slot. There's a younger audience that's available. When the kids are not in school, we have really really high younger numbers, and that fluctuates depending on what's going on with school year all the way up through college even. So I think it will be interesting to see what happens. Spike thought it was an exciting opportunity for us to try and we're going to, and we'll see what happens. I think what we're trying to do is be more consistent with the bleeping of the language. I mean, we can all go see the movie Shrek and we get one thing out of it, our kids get another thing out of it. That's the line that we have to walk: to provide something that is going to be an edgy product, but do it in a way that is not going to be offensive. And we just have to stay consistent at it."
On Hogan On TNA: "I hear all the time from people, Hulk Hogan is on my television screen all the time! And I think if people put a clock to what he does on TV and then if I put a clock on what he does for our company, it's just a misconception amongst a small percentage of viewers. If you like Impact! Wrestling, then you should love Hulk Hogan because that man is working his tail off for us and he's expanding our brand and growing our perception and awareness level out there in ways that it would take us so long to accomplish. He's really rolled up his sleeves, he shows up to work if he's not on television. He is there to help build the next generation of stars. I'll fight anybody who tries to take that away from him, and that's a big frustration to hear it stated any other way. If you like Impact! Wrestling, he's doing nothing but helping us on every level. If you look at who's getting the air-time on our show, it's definitely not Hulk Hogan—he wasn't even on for six months. It's not the Stings, it's not the Ric Flairs, but those guys add something that few other wrestlers can add. But it's the Bobby Roodes, it's the James Storms, it's the Bully Rays, it's now the Austin Aries, it's those people that, if you look at the minutes of match time and promo time, far exceed anybody else. All the people that are holding the belts right now: Chris Daniels, Kazarian, Joe and Magnus. There are so many new faces. And I think for the first time in our history, we have really been consistent and given that focus and push to this younger roster of people, and I think that they've really stepped up and done a great job with the opportunity that they've been given. What Hulk does the most of now is he truly is talking with these younger guys and working with them on their matches and the psychology of their matches. On-screen and off-screen, he's backstage talking with these young guys when they go out, when they come back, in the agents' meetings… It's just on every level, he's helping these guys. He's trying to help define and develop the next Hulk Hogan. And that's hard to be, but just even the process and potential of that…when you're in my shoes, that's a great opportunity to be given."
On Jeff Hardy – Sting Disaster: "I'm so proud of Jeff Hardy. His potential is so unlimited, he's never known how good he really is, he's an incredibly humble man, and he has turned his life completely around. I feel blessed to have been a small small part of that in supporting him and helping put the structure in place. He's just been amazing. He's a father, a wonderful husband, and he's got his priorities right and his health. Therefore, I think we're seeing the best work from him he's ever done."
On TNA's Growth Plan: "Those things don't happen overnight, and you don't stay in business unless you make really good business decisions. Touring is an incredibly expensive proposition. It's almost a half-a-million dollars a night, and if I were playing a major arena, the cost would only go up maybe ten or fifteen thousand dollars, twenty thousand dollars. So it doesn't matter where we play, it's very expensive, and we'll play those when we feel like we'll have the ability to sell more tickets. The growth plan is to grow not just Impact! but grow TNA Entertainment in a variety of different ways. We're really breaking out into some areas worldwide and having some great global success. Our rating in the United Kingdom (we've only been on four-and-a-half years there, going on five years) we are the highest-rated wrestling show in the United Kingdom. We are selling out big arenas there, and it's an exciting thing. The time will happen in the United States as well, but it's tough getting that kind of popularity when you only have a two-hour show with so much talent. We need to grow that, we need to have more programming and be seen in more places and in different ways, and that's one of the things we're working on. "
On Competing with WWE: "We wanna be the best company we can be. If you haven't watched TNA in a long time, there's no better time to come back and give it a try. I don' think we've ever turned out better stories, the in-ring action has been fantastic, the focus on the younger talent...it's exactly where it needs to be for us to grow. And we had to do that to really see being able to take that step forward and growing our company with a whole new crop of stars. We had to give them this kind of focus to be able to take it to another level. In the United Kingdom, we have multiple shows, our pay-per-views air for free, so we have a lot more exposure over there and the end result is our ratings are significantly higher and much more competitive to the point where we beat our competitor. "
On PPV Buys: "Our focus in the past has been growing our television brand. And, again, when you only have one show to try to drive people to it, it's too many pay-per-views for only having one show. It's very difficult to try to do big arching pay-per-views once a month with only one two-hour show. If we had two shows, it would be much easier, three it would be much much easier. But I think the pay-per-view business is a declining business and we've gotta stay current with new technology. People are not even watching television the way they did twenty-four, eighteen months ago. All of the headlines today are about the shrinking ratings. It's not that the viewership is down as much, but people are watching differently: they're watching on their phones, their iPads, they're DVR-ing, and it's gonna change. Things in the next twelve to twenty-four months are gonna change as well. "
On a Second Show: "I think you'll see something second of ours and maybe even third of ours. Whether it'll be on Spike or another network, it's definitely part of our plan. We just need to become more mainstream, have more exposure in different ways and with different shows—a top priority for our company."
On Ric Flair's 2nd WWE Hall of Fame Induction: "It was the easiest decision in the world! Why would I ever consider keeping a man who is so deserving of that second award from being recognized? I am not completely selfless—and there may be something coming up here pretty soon that might get people's eyebrows raised—but regardless of anything, I would never have stopped Ric from receiving an award that is so deserved."
On Garret Bischoff: "He's a very very talented kid. I told him from the beginning, Look you are going to have to be better than the next guy because people are going to be so much more critical of you than they would anybody there. And I think because of that, it's a really difficult position to be in, and I respect his guts because it does take a lot—quite honestly—to be able to face that and all these critics. But the kid's got talent, he really really does. Just like others, he's been cycled into a solid storyline, and there's ebbs and flows to kind of keep people in the limelight. But he's no different than a Crimson who's on a great winning streak or a Magnus. There's a handful of other guys that we have who are new that we are trying to break. And I think it's unjust to give him that criticism when no one is saying that about a Gunner, or a Crimson, or a Magnus. And his in-ring abilities are equal to those guys."
On Kurt Angle: "There will never be enough words to describe what Kurt has done for TNA. It's one thing to be a Ric Flair and a Hogan for us on this level. Words will never describe what he has meant to this company. We've had some great icons joining us, but for him to be in the ring, absolutely the greatest wrestler of all time. And to be the ring general, to make so many matches look so great, to help so many talent grow and become better…there's no one like him. And his dedication to the company to me has been just unbelievable."
On Going Live: "I would love to be live, I really would! Some people don't think that would be the difference, some people think being out on the road more. I don't think if we knew what the answer was, we could move there a lot more quickly. It's definitely cost. We sell a couple of shows back-to-back. Part of it is a cost-issue, and the other part is Do you stay in the Impact Zone and go live? I think you're gonna see a lot of changes in the company to the end of this year and hopefully beyond. We're looking at a lot of different ways to do business and shake some stuff up. I'm excited about the things we're talking about."
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