– TNA President Dixie Carter recently spoke with Donald Wood and the folks at Ring Rust Radio & Bleacher Report. Below are some highlights from their conversation:
Donald Wood: It is now common knowledge that you will be going through a table on the Aug. 7 edition of Impact Wrestling. What should the fans expect from this week’s show?
Dixie Carter: I think if you’ve been watching lately the show has been, in my opinion, some of the best programming that we’ve been putting out. I’m so excited about it. I’m just thrilled to see how many of these young talents that we’ve debuted in the last six, eight, nine months in such a prominent role. And at the same time we’re starting to have such amazing increases in ratings, so that makes me really proud. Tomorrow night is a big night for us. I would happen to call it must-see TV and if you haven’t tuned in in a while it would definitely be a show to catch.
Mike Chiari: Having already done several tapings at the Manhattan Center and being in the midst of more currently, how significant do you believe permeating the New York market is in terms of increasing TNA’s popularity and improving its profile nationally?
Dixie Carter: It’s one of those things, we wanted to play here. We’re like, ‘Let’s bring a pay-per-view,’ and then we couldn’t get the dates cleared. Do we play across the river in New Jersey? Do we play in the city? It’s like what are we waiting for? We need to bring TV there. This was such a great idea. I’m thrilled that we did it. The crowds have been phenomenal. I loved bringing back the six-sided ring here. It’s been very, very special and I think it’s really contributed to how great the shows feel.
Brandon Galvin: It always seems that at some point in a performer’s career they end up wrestling a match. Given how many talented Knockouts are on the TNA roster, have you considered wrestling a match in the future?
Dixie Carter: I said I would never be on TV and I am. I don’t think I ever said I wouldn’t take a bump, but the answer is no, though. No desire to do a match, I’m going to have to draw the line somewhere. To be honest I’ve really enjoyed the last few months. I have loved working with all of these young, new talents that I get to: Rockstar Spud and Ethan (Carter III) and Magnus before that. It’s just been a lot of fun and I finally just said, ‘You know what, you don’t care, just let go and have fun with it.’ And that’s exactly what I’ve tried to do.
Donald Wood: There has been some controversy surrounding your table spot with Bully Ray from people who perceive this as endorsing violence against women. What do you say to fans and supporters who have similar concerns?
Dixie Carter: We have taken man-on-female violence I would say even more seriously from Day One than even a chair shot. That has been banned from the beginning and it took us a while, but chair shots are not right and going to be handled either. It’s very important to our network that this happened. It’s why we have done my character a certain way. It’s why we’ve treated this with the “Boss Toss” and we’ve tried to take it more tongue in cheek. And we also have a disclaimer before this show saying it’s not something that we condone. It’s a spot and it’s an end to a four-month story of something that I have continuously put myself in this position, and we’ve tried to make it as light as possible.
Mike Chiari: TNA made headlines when it was announced that Bound For Glory is going to be held in Japan this October. Why do you feel like that is a beneficial move for TNA and what are the current pay-per-view plans in terms of either tape delay or showing it at an uncommon hour in the United States?
Dixie Carter: I don’t have that exact information yet as far as the airing is concerned. I think it should be in the exact same time it always is. That’s my understanding. I feel like we’re having such tremendous global success and we really are trying to listen to the fans, and part of what they love is the Japanese-style wrestling. So, we’ve introduced the character Sanada into our show. The wonderfully talented Great Muta has honored us on our show. We thought it would be a great opportunity just to continue to show this international growth and take our biggest pay-per-view of the year on a global stage to Tokyo. I’m really excited about it.
Brandon Galvin: You’ve had the opportunity to work with legendary performers in the past and still work with great wrestling minds such as Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy. What have you learned from working with them that you’ve implemented into your own performance?
Dixie Carter: From Hulk (Hogan) and Sting and Ric Flair, all of those guys, you talk about the truly great performers, Kurt (Angle). What they do is they just let go. They don’t think about it, they don’t worry about it, they just be their character, and they do what’s right for the company. I think when you play yourself— because I’m not playing Sanada, I’m not playing Tigre Uno or The Wolves— I’m playing the president of a company. I think for so long I just felt very business, presidential about it. It did take me just a beat to say, “You know what, you’re not really playing yourself now.” This is a caricature of someone who you’re really not and you just need to have fun with it, so that’s what I’ve tried to do.
Donald Wood: There were rumors that surfaced immediately after the taping regarding your health following the table spot. Would you fill the fans in at home about how you are doing now and what, if any, injuries you suffered during the incident?
Dixie Carter: It hurt like hell. I have such mad respect for these men and women and what they do every time. I sit there as they come backstage and they’re warriors. I talk to professional football players and fighters and NBA guys, and they all tell me they could never do what these men and women do 52 weeks a year, no offseason, multiple times a week. People are like, “Is that table fake?” No, this stuff hurts, it hurts like hell. To be able to do what they do, it was just a small way of me paying respect for what they do for me personally and to our company and for the fans. So, it did hurt, you’ll just have to watch and see what really does happen and then maybe I’ll tell you how serious it was, but yes, I was injured.
Brandon Galvin: TNA has undergone many changes throughout its 12-year history, most notably with using the six-sided ring and how special events are handled. Are there any changes to the product that you would like to implement, but haven’t had the opportunity to do so?
Dixie Carter: I think if you look at us over the last six-to-nine months we’ve made more changes to our company that I think are really starting to resonate with our fans. Fans who may have left at some point and some people who are just now finding us, and that is really trying to listen to what our fans and viewers want to see. Bringing back the six-sided ring, that was a change. Letting the fans decide; if it had won by one vote or another it would have gone down as the fans’ decision. Instead we got a landslide and made the change. The introductions just in the last nine months I counted almost 15 new talents, either brand new or completely repackaged characters that we’ve interviewed in the last nine months. We did not do that in the last nine years. Excuse me, not nine years, maybe five or six years. Don’t hold me to the date, I don’t know the math, but I’m just telling you it was years and years and years. To see some of them doing so well and in such amazing, great roles and just knocking it out of the park every night I just couldn’t be more proud. I think we have undergone changes from the ring to the new characters on the show, how young our talent is to the way we’re trying to tell our stories right now to the way we’re going about focusing on the wrestling. I think that those have been tremendous changes. Are there more to come? Absolutely, but I’m really proud of all that we’ve accomplished in the past few months.
Mike Chiari: Over the past week there has been a lot of talk about TNA’s future on Spike TV. How do you believe negotiations are progressing with Spike and what are TNA’s other options if a new deal with Spike can’t be reached?
Dixie Carter: Every two years I go through this. This is just the first public negotiation I’ve ever had. I think social media has really changed this kind of thing. I’m used to every two years negotiating with Spike and negotiating with other networks. This time is absolutely not any different. We’re still talking with them, but there are other people, thank God, that are interested in our product. I want to grow this brand; I want to grow it domestically. I want us to be able to start having the kind of success domestically that we’re having internationally. I’m not going to stop and none of us are going to stop until we get there. I’m real excited to see and I think we’ll know sooner than later what’s going to happen.